Defense attorneys for former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) owner Stewart Parnell said today they wouldn’t be calling any witnesses in the federal criminal trial underway in Albany, GA. They made the announcement after the government concluded presenting its case against Parnell, his peanut broker brother Michael Parnell, and Mary Wilkerson, PCA’s former quality control manager at the company’s now-closed plant in Blakely, GA. Defense attorneys for Michael Parnell and Wilkerson do plan to put on their own witnesses. All the defense attorneys joined in the routine call for a directed verdict of acquittal before one of the attorneys continued with the opening statements they’d held when the trial began.

Stewart Parnell
Edward Tolley, the lead defense attorney for Michael Parnell, went about separating his client from PCA’s business. His peanut brokerage, PP Sales, was independent of PCA, according to Tolley. His client was a buyer for Kellogg’s, never worked for, or received a check from, PCA, and was solely responsible for financing the purchase and insurance for the big tanker trucks that were used to deliver peanut paste to Kellogg’s from the PCA plant in Blakely. Tolley said his client could not have been involved in conspiracy at PCA dating back to 2003 because his first deal with the company did not occur until July 2007. The attorney even took exception to classifying his client’s role as a peanut broker. He said that “buyer” is a more accurate term for what Michael Parnell did. He also said that his client was deceived. Wilkerson’s attorney continued to waive his right to make an opening statement in the case, allowing Tolley to instead call Jean Parnell, Michael Parnell’s wife, to the witness stand.