The criminal jury trial for former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) executives should start on Oct. 7, according to an agreement by attorneys involved in the case. Picking the start date for the federal criminal trial is one of several important logistical decisions that U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands is expected to make today during an pre-trial hearing in his Albany, GA courtroom. Charged with a total of 76 criminal charges are Stewart Parnell, his brother Michael, Samuel Lightsey and Mary Wilkerson. Parnell was chief executive of the now defunct PCA, his brother was the company’s peanut broker, and Lightsey and Wilkerson were respectively the plant manager and quality assurance manager, at PCA’s troubled peanut processing plant in Blakely, GA. Government and defense attorneys today will ask Sands to approve a scheduling order that sets deadline for everything from discovery to drafts for jury instructions. Among the decisions Sands will make at today’s hearing is whether Kenneth B. Hodges, III can remain as a member of Parnell’s defense team. Government attorneys want him removed for a possible conflict of interest as Hodges provided legal counsel of Parnell’s daughter and his son in law when federal agents were questioning them. Parnell wants Hodges to remain on the case, and he has argued that a defendant’s right to counsel should trump anything else. U.S. attorneys, however, have now filed information under seal that they say would “reveal the identities of unindicted coconspirators,” which might ramp up the issue. Michael Parnell begged off from attending today’s pre-trial hearing, persuading Sands that his attorney could represent him. Sands agreed to the request, which said Parnell could not risk being away from his new job in automobile sales. All four defendants have pleaded not guilty to the charges that stem from selling Salmonella-contaminated peanut butter products blamed for a nationwide Salmonella outbreak in 2009 that killed nine people and sickened more than 700.