Stewart Parnell, former president of the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA), linked to a 2008-2009 nationwide Salmonella outbreak that allegedly killed nine who consumed products made with the company’s tainted peanut paste and injured some 700 others, has filed a motion asking the court to exclude “all evidence related to any alleged illness or death” during his criminal trial. United States v. Parnell, No. 13-cr-12 (U.S. Dist. Ct., M.D. Ga., Albany Div., motion filed May 20, 2014).
Observing that the government’s pleaded harm “consists of monetary harm to the customers and individuals named” and that the entire case is “premised on the alleged wrongful conduct of obtaining money by false pretenses,” Parnell argues that victim-impact evidence is irrelevant and would be highly prejudicial. In this regard, he states, “[T]he only purpose for introducing evidence of salmonella-related illness and death is to inflame the jury in an effort to suggest a decision on an improper basis.” According to Parnell, “[t]he government cannot link illness or death to PCA products or to anything other than PCA being a ‘likely’ source.” He also contends that this evidence has “little to no bearing” on the charges in the indictment.