Government attorneys have asked U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands to deny Michael Parnell’s motion for acquittal on the charges for which a jury found him guilty after a nearly eight-week trial. In its first response to post-trial motions made by all three defendants in the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) case, the prosecution team says that any inconsistencies between the jury finding Michael Parnell not guilty of shipping adulterated food but guilty of interstate shipments fraud and shipping misbranded foods are not an issue because juries are “free to choose among the reasonable constructions of the evidence.” Parnell, a peanut broker, and his brother Stewart Parnell, owner of the now-defunct PCA, were together found guilty of 97 felony counts by a jury on Sept. 19, 2014. At the same trial, Mary Wilkerson, PCA’s Blakely, GA, quality assurance manager, was also found guilty of one of two counts of obstruction of justice. All three defendants filed post-trial motions for acquittal. “The evidence need not exclude every hypothesis of innocence or be inconsistent with every conclusion except guilt,” the prosecution team argues. “It is not enough for a defendant to put forth a reasonable hypothesis of innocence, because the issue is not whether a jury reasonably could have acquitted but whether it reasonably could not have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, along with U.S. Department of Justice lawyers Patrick H. Hearn and Mary M. Englehart, submitted arguments that purport to show that “the evidence against defendant Michael Parnell at trial was overwhelming.” They picked a dozen specific instances to help show where they proved at trial that the Parnell brothers “engaged in fraud and both conspired to commit fraud.” They say that witness testimony “was strongly corroborated by voluminous documentary evidence. Furthermore, this evidence was largely uncontested and uncontroverted.” Further, the government’s attorneys claim that the jury verdicts “are in no sense inconsistent.” “All of the misbranding and mail fraud counts against defendant Michael Parnell were supported by the evidence that the shipments were accompanied by false and fraudulent certificates of analysis. The evidence showed that Michael Parnell was deeply involved with creating those false and fraudulent certificates of analysis,” they write. “A finding of guilt on those counts is in no way inconsistent with a finding of not guilty of shipping adulterated food, a separate crime that rested on different conduct,” they continue. “A rational juror could have decided that Michael Parnell was far enough removed from the actual operations of the PCA facilities that he was not culpable for the insanitary conditions within those facilities, while still finding him culpable of shipping misbranded food produced at those facilities.” The prosecution team also cites U.S. Supreme Court precedents that found jury verdicts are “insulated from review on grounds they are inconsistent.” As long as a jury verdict is supported by sufficient evidence, it can stand, they argue. Stewart Parnell and Wilkerson have also asked Judge Sands to overturn the jury verdicts that found them guilty. In addition, the Parnell brothers have asked for a new trial in part based on possible research some jurors might have done on their own into the foodborne illnesses that stemmed from the PCA plant at Blakely, GA, five years ago. Court documents show that Sands conducted a post-trial evidentiary hearing in the privacy of his chambers last week. He has also issued some sealed orders, but he is not thought to have ruled on any of the major post-trial issues.