Jury won’t consider deaths in Ga. salmonella trial
ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — Shirley Mae Almer died a few days before Christmas in 2008 at a Minnesota hospital where the 72-year-old woman was already weak with illness when she was fed peanut butter contaminated with salmonella.
Nearly six years later, a federal jury is weighing criminal charges against the man who owned the peanut plant blamed for producing tainted food that sickened hundreds across the U.S. But after six weeks of trial testimony that included nearly 50 witnesses and an estimated 1,000 documents, jurors never heard that Almer or anybody else died after eating the company’s peanut butter.
The jury resumed deliberations in the trial of former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two others Thursday morning and worked through lunch with no questions for the judge or other status updates. Jurors began weighing evidence Friday afternoon, but court was in recess earlier this week.
Prosecutors say they made a calculated legal decision in keeping evidence of deaths off the table. Jeff Almer, whose mother was among nine people whose deaths were linked to the outbreak in 2008 and 2009, said he understands that. But he still worries jurors who sat through the long trial still don’t grasp its full impact.
“The details and the technicalities get to be a bit much,” Almer said. “I thought the deaths were a shock to the system and justified and validated everything.”