Attorneys mount strong defense in peanut salmonella trial - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Attorneys mount strong defense in peanut salmonella trial

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

After questioning of an FBI agent ended, the government rested its case against officials of the Peanut Corporation of America, at the Albany federal courthouse, and now it's the turn of the defense.

1:40 p.m.

Court has been dismissed. Closing arguments are expected to begin Thursday at 8 a.m. Jean Parnell also took the stand, but had no cross-examination from prosecutors. 

12:45 p.m.

Defense attorney Edward Tolley says he says he has two goals: To put a face with Michael Parnell. He intends to call his wife Jean Parnell to the stand. He also wants to outline what Parnell did at Peanut Processors, which is where he worked before starting PP Sales, two different companies. He wants to show how they ran things and prove that it was legal.

Parnell was employed at peanut processors until he was laid off in 2006. He then started his own company, PP Sales. They were a buyer for Kellogg's. He did not start doing business with PCA until July 2007. Tolley suggests that this proves he wasn't part of any conspiracy at PCA dating back to 2003, as the indictment alleges. He spent $250,000 on tanker trucks for the peanut paste. Tolley says Parnell assumed all the risks--he paid for insurance, bought the trucks and paid the freight fees.

The testing procedures at PCA dated back before Michael Parnell did any business with them and he didn't coach them on how to falsify records. He also says that Kellogg's wasn't the customer deceived by PCA; PP Sales was the customer deceived in this case.

He intends to call an employee from Peanut Processors to give background on how things are run from a buyer/broker point of view.

He outlines four main problems with indictment:

1) Michael Parnell is a BUYER, not a BROKER, and there are fundamental differences that he intends to show with evidence.

2) Michael Parnell had no ownership stake in PCA, as the government has alleged.

3) Parnell didn't live in Richmond, as the indictment says. His company was in Midlothian, or Richmond.

4) Parnell was never an employee of PCA and never received a paycheck from them.

Overall, Tolley is going to show that Parnell was deceived and didn't have inside knowledge about what was going on with testing. This is the first real insight we have gotten into this, even with cross examination.

Mary Wilkerson's attorney waived their right to an opening statement. Tolley is set to call his first witness--Hunter Sutton. Court is in a 20 minute recess.

10:00 a.m.

After questioning of an FBI agent ended, the government rested its case against officials of the Peanut Corporation of America, at the Albany federal courthouse.

Defense lawyers said they'd ask for a directed verdict when they come back from the first break.

If Judge W. Louis Sands denies that, then lawyers for Michael Parnell and Mary Wilkerson will present opening statements. Lawyers for each don't expect their process to be too long.

Stewart Parnell's lawyer said he would not present a defense for his client.  Michael Parnell's lawyer says they will call a few witnesses.


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