Cherokee school board member, associates guilty on all counts
by Michelle Babcock
April 27, 2014 01:27 AM | 2811 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kelly Marlow was convicted Saturday at 9 p.m. on two felony counts of making a false statement for lying to Canton police about an incident with Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo. Marlow will no longer hold office as a Cherokee County School Board member, as Georgia Code states no felon can hold a publicly elected office.<br>Staff/Michelle Babcock
Kelly Marlow was convicted Saturday at 9 p.m. on two felony counts of making a false statement for lying to Canton police about an incident with Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo. Marlow will no longer hold office as a Cherokee County School Board member, as Georgia Code states no felon can hold a publicly elected office.
Staff/Michelle Babcock
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CANTON — Cherokee School Board member Kelly Marlow was found guilty Saturday on felony charges of making false statements to police, as was her political adviser Robert Trim and Cherokee GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles.

Marlow sobbed as the jury’s verdict was announced. She, Trim and Knowles left court quickly without comment.

The jury found Marlow, Trim and Knowles did in fact lie to the Canton Police Department about an incident involving Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo. The trio was charged with falsely accusing Petruzielo of trying to run them over outside a tavern after a heated school board meeting June 13, 2013.

The final verdict was delivered just before 9 p.m., after hours of deliberation.

Marlow was found guilty of two counts of making a false statement, Trim was found guilty of two counts of making a false statement, and Knowles was found guilty of three counts of making a false statement and one count of making a false report. Knowles made the original 911 call outside the Painted Pig Tavern.

Each felony charge of making a false statement holds a sentence of up to five years and the misdemeanor charge of filing a false report holds up to a 12-month sentence, Cherokee County Superior Court Judge Ellen McElyea said.

Sentencing was scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Cherokee County Courthouse.

According to Georgia Code, Marlow’s days on the school board are numbered.

“Upon initial conviction of any public official for any felony in a trial court of this state or the United States, regardless of whether the public official has been suspended previously … such public official shall be immediately and without further action suspended from office,” the Georgia Code O.C.G.A. 45-5-6.1 states.

The trio was indicted last year on 12 charges total, but McElyea told the jury they would not be deliberating on four of the charges, leaving eight for consideration Saturday.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Rachelle Carnesale, the prosecutor in the case, explained the four charges were taken off the list for jury consideration because there is no law that specifically deals with false statements and phone conversations.

Since the four charges dealt with phone conversations and there was no evidence to prove the three defendants were in Cherokee County when the interviews occurred, the charges were taken off the list for consideration.

Marlow’s defense attorney, Brian Steel, called a final witness to the stand Saturday, as trial for continued into the sixth day Saturday at 9 a.m.

Steel called on Ross Gardner, a crime scene analyst working for the defense, who answered questions from Steel about what opinions he formed based on assumptions he drew from the surveillance video footage from The Painted Pig.

Gardner was on the stand for more than an hour and a half, and said he “assumed” many “hypothetical” details about the video footage.

Carnesdale responded to Gardner’s statements during the first part of her closing statements Saturday, saying the defense’s case was built on variables they assumed and not facts.

“That’s the work of a very talented defense team,” Carnesale said.

Carnesale began by telling the jury they were charged with determining if Marlow, Trim and Knowles lied to police.

Carnesale said “lawyer’s arguments are not evidence,” and “all lawyers have tricks and gimmicks.”

“Do you believe they lied?” Carnesale asked the jury. “I stand by my case.”

Carnesale said the state had “concrete physical evidence,” and the jury should know that Steel is an expert at “spinning gold.”

Steel reminded the jury if they had “reasonable doubt” of the defendant’s guilt, they should acquit them.

“How can you ever say that you don’t have a reason to doubt?” Steel asked the jury.

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