ALBANY, GA (WALB) - 1:50PM The jury is picking a leader and getting the evidence. Court will be in recess next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. If no verdict is reached Friday or Saturday, then the jury will come back Thursday.
12:00 Noon - Court is in a 20 minute break
11:35AM - Department of Justice Attorney Patrick Hearn has the last words with the jury and is going now. He said "this is about people wanting to know that the food they eat is safe. That did not happen in this case."
He is attacking a couple of points made by defendants. He is going through jury instructions now and trying to tell the jury how to look at the evidence and relate it to the charges. He gave them instruction about going through direct and circumstantial evidence and how to process it all.
Attorney Ed Tolley's closing arguments continued on the relationship with Kellogg's and referred to Samuel Lightsey's testimony when he said: "Kellogg's had to know that we couldn't keep up with their demands." He inferred that Kellogg's would know, so they weren't really being defrauded.
Kilgore testified that he didn't know who brought up the idea for making false Certificates of Analysis (COA). Tolley said this proves it was before Michael Parnell came to work with PCA.
The biggest point in his closings was that Stewart and Michael aren't close at all. He showed an email of Stewart complaining to Michael about the cost he was incurring on PCA. Tolley said there is no way two people who aren't close at all would be working together in a conspiracy. Tolley also referenced the fact that the government never called any of the unindicted coconspirators. He said Kilgore was dishonest in his testimony.
There was a corporate meeting in Lynchburg that the government pinned as a day the conspiracy could have been informally mentioned, but records show that Michael Parnell was not at that meeting.
An FBI investigator said she was able to connect the dots on the fake COAs after looking at dump reports and production logs, Tolley said those are two files that Michael Parnell never had any access to and were kept only at PCA. He pointed out that there is no reason to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars if all the tests were going to be faked.
Tolley showed an email where Parnell was contacting Kellogg's about moving a shipping date. He told the jury that it was proof that Parnell was worried about the testing results and wanted to get things to Kellogg's correctly.
Tolley also said that Parnell never supervised any paste line at PCA and had no direction over the product. He only came to the plant to fix his trucks and supervise the loading. Kilgore testified that he made the peanut paste line.
Another charge against Michael Parnell is that he defrauded Kellogg's by sending paste with Mexican paste mixed in. Tolley brought up a testimony where Kilgore testified: "I don't believe that Michael knew we used Mexican paste."
His closing remark is that Parnell was never complicit in defrauding Kellogg's or any other customers. He didn't want to distribute anything that was misbranded or adulterated. Most of his closing argument was focused on breaking down the charges that his client was involved in a conspiracy to defraud customers.
10:55AM - Ledford presented his closing remarks for Mary Wilkerson. He brought up Lightsey's testimony where he told the jury that Mary Wilkerson was very helpful in the investigation and helped the government attain documents.
Mary Wilkerson is charged with two counts of obstruction. In the first count, the government says Wilkerson lied to inspectors when they asked her about the other failed tests for salmonella. Ledford said she didn't work in QA and she told the truth because she really didn't know.
The other charge is in regards to her hiding a log book. Ledford said all the evidence shows that this log book was easily accessible and anyone could have gotten it. He said his client never purposely hid it and reiterated that Wilkerson was helpful throughout the whole investigation and was the last person out the door at PCA. Ledford said Wilkerson sounded the alarm when she saw something wrong.
His closing remark: "Mary Wilkerson did not lie to investigators, and she didn't hide that log book. She was helpful and truthful."