Marlow, her political adviser Robert Trim and Cherokee GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles are set to appear in court at 9 a.m. to stand trial on felony charges of making false statements that Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo tried to hit them with his car after a heated school board meeting June 13, 2013.
Wallace said the pre-trial conference was held Thursday and everything was “still a go for Monday.” The DA said she expects the trial to last two or three days.
Recently, subpoenas have been going out for the expected witnesses in the case that has rocked Cherokee County politics and put a statewide spotlight on the county. Among those subpoenaed to testify include Petruzielo and other employees of the Cherokee County School District, court records show.
Employees of the Cherokee County E-911, which took the original call from Knowles on June 13, were also tapped to testify, as were Canton Police Department detectives and officers and an investigator from the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office.
Knowles called 911 late in the evening June 13, 2013, to report Petruzielo’s alleged aggravated assault outside the Painted Pig Tavern in downtown Canton, police have said. The Canton Police Department, which headed the investigation, took out warrants for the defendants in July 2013.
Since the 911 call and multiple subsequent allegedly false statements to police, Marlow, Trim and Knowles have denied any wrongdoing in the case, as has the superintendent.
The three defendants have pleaded not guilty in the case. Marlow faces four felony counts of making false statements. Trim faces three counts. Knowles faces one misdemeanor count of false report of a crime and four felony counts of making a false statement.
The upcoming trial had been set to begin in March, but attorneys on all sides agreed to postpone because of scheduling conflicts.
Marlow’s attorney then submitted a request for a speedy trial April 8, court records show. Trim’s attorney submitted a motion for Trim to adopt Marlow’s request for a speedy trial on the same day. Knowles’ attorney followed suit April 9.
Superior Court Judge Ellen McElyea is presiding over the trial, after Chief Superior Court Judge Jackson Harris recused himself because his wife teaches in Cherokee County. In announcing his decision to step aside from the case, Harris said his wife’s employment made it a conflict of interest for him to be the judge, as both the alleged victim and one of the defendants were his wife’s superiors.
Marlow has been a controversial figure and a frequent critic of the superintendent since she took her seat on the school board in January 2013. Two weeks after the alleged incident outside the Canton tavern, Marlow put on an event called the “What’s Inside Dr. Frank’s Piggy Bank?” town hall meeting.
The trial comes just weeks after the state Board of Education upheld the Cherokee School Board’s decision last year to sanction and fine Marlow for sending a letter to AdvancEd, the agency in charge of school accreditation, asking for an investigation into the local board. Marlow plans to appeal that ruling.
In November, a panel formed by Gov. Nathan Deal recommended Marlow be allowed to keep her seat on the school board as the criminal case against her moved forward. Deal followed that recommendation.
But, if found guilty in the case, Marlow would face suspension and, ultimately, removal from office upon final conviction, according to state law.