Jury won't consider deaths in Ga. salmonella trial

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ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — A jury weighing criminal charges against the owner of a Georgia peanut plant blamed for a nationwide salmonella outbreak will decide the case without hearing one fact — that nine people died after eating the company's tainted peanut butter.

Jury deliberations were scheduled to resume Thursday in the federal trial of former Peanut Corporation of America owner Stewart Parnell and two co-defendants. Prosecutors say Parnell knowingly shipped contaminated peanut butter and faked lab tests for salmonella.

During nearly six weeks of testimony, jurors heard evidence that people got sick. But prosecutors never mentioned deaths.

U.S. Attorney Michael Moore says prosecutors felt they could build their strongest case around fraud charges, and testimony regarding deaths would have distracted jurors and possibly made any convictions vulnerable to appeals.

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