Stewart Parnell, former CEO of Peanut Corp. of America (PCA), and his brother Michael Parnell, former vice president of sales, have filed a joint motion for a new trial following their recent convictions on charges stemming from a Salmonella outbreak traced to their peanut-processing facilities. United States v. Parnell, 13-cr-12 (U.S. Dist. Ct., M.D. Ga., Albany Div., motion filed October 7). In a separate motion, former quality control manager Mary Wilkerson asked the court to acquit her of obstruction-of-justice charges because, she argued, the government failed to provide “a recording, time log, video, affidavit, state or any time of record of the alleged interview” in which Wilkerson was apparently asked “if she was aware of any positives [for Salmonella] in any of the FDA Inspector’s notes.”
In their motion, the Parnells claimed that jury members conducted their own research and discovered that the Salmonella outbreak had been linked to nine deaths, a fact that had been excluded at trial. They argued that a survey of the jury following the convictions revealed that “some of the other jurors indicated to them that the defendants were guilty because they had caused nine (9) deaths,” and one of the jurors apparently said that the information about the deaths had influenced her decision. Further details about the convictions appear in Issue 538 of this Update.