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Campbell Soup tampering trial to start Monday

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A Stockbridge man charged with feeding tainted soup to his two young children in 2006 is scheduled to go on trial Monday in Clayton County Superior Court.

William Allen Cunningham is already serving a five-year sentence on a federal charge in the case, according a U.S. Department of Justice press statement. In April 2007, Cunningham was sentenced to five years in prison in U.S. District Court, after he pleaded guilty to communicating false information.

Cunningham claimed that Campbell's soup he fed to his children had been factory-contaminated when, in fact, Cunningham himself tampered with the soup before feeding it to his young children, according to federal authorities. On Jan. 20, 2006, Cunningham called the Campbell Soup Company and accused them of selling contaminated soup, federal authorities said.

Cunningham now faces state charges in the case. In March 2007, a Clayton County grand jury charged Cunningham with five counts of cruelty to children and two counts of aggravated assault, for placing foreign substances in a liquid and feeding it to his children.

Cunningham's attorney, Richard Genirberg, declined Friday to comment on the case.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice statement, Cunningham had placed hot peppers, lighter fluid, and prescription drugs in the soup, and fed it to his 18-month-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

As a result of the poisoning, Cunningham's son was treated at a local hospital, and his daughter was rushed by helicopter to a local children's hospital, according to federal authorities.

The state trial gets underway at 9 a.m., Monday, at the Harold R. Banke Justice Center, according to Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson. Clayton County Chief Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons will hear the case, Graham Lawson said.

Graham Lawson said Friday she will try the case along with Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Dixon.

"We intend to call more than 20 witnesses," said Graham Lawson, who also said this will be the first jury trial that she will personally argue since taking office in January.

Graham Lawson said she expects the judge will hear motions in the case Monday, and she hopes to complete jury selection, opening statements, and begin witness testimony.

"I'm hoping to do closing statements by Wednesday afternoon," she said.