ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Closing arguments will start Thursday morning in the trial of three people charged with a deadly salmonella outbreak linked to a peanut processing plant in Blakely.
After the federal government spent weeks laying out their case, only one of three defendants called any witnesses to the stand.
Former peanut corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell, and his food broker brother, Michael Parnell, are charged with knowingly shipping salmonella-tainted products and covering up the lab results after a deadly outbreak was traced to their plant. Former plant quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson is charged with obstruction of justice as well.
In his opening statement, Michael Parnell's attorney, Edward Tolley, said his client never worked at PCA and had no ownership stake in the company as the government contends. Tolley also said Parnell's company didn't start buying from PCA until 2007 and therefore he could not have been part of any conspiracy at the company that the government says started in 2003.
Tolley said Parnell was a victim just as much as the 11 other customers, and the government did not acknowledge that in their opening statements.
Michael Parnell's wife and a former co-worker testified. Attorneys for Stewart Parnell and Mary Wilkerson did not make any statements or call any witnesses to the stand.
The closing arguments will begin at 8 AM, and then the jury will hear their instructions before deliberation.
Copyright 2014 WALB. All rights reserved.