CANTON — A Cherokee County grand jury met this week, but did not take up the felony case against Cherokee County School Board member Kelly Marlow and her two associates, who were arrested in July on charges of making false statements saying that Cherokee Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo tried to run them over with his car.
District Attorney Shannon Wallace said Wednesday that the grand jury met Monday and Tuesday, but did not consider indictments in the case against Marlow, her political adviser Robert Trim and Cherokee County GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles because the case is still under investigation.
Marlow, Trim and Knowles surrendered to authorities in early July after the Canton Police Department obtained warrants for their arrests after the three were accused of lying when they told that detectives Petruzielo tried to run them over outside a tavern in downtown Canton after a contentious school board meeting June 13. Although two months and two meetings of the grand jury have passed since, Wallace said the delay in her office presenting the case for the grand jury to consider indictment isn’t unusual.
“It is not uncommon at all for it to take several months to indict a case, even a seemingly simple case,” she said.
“We do not rush to indict any case. We take our time to make sure that we know everything there is to know about the case and are truly ready to proceed to trial.”
Wallace said that while the case against Marlow, Trim and Knowles may seem simple on the surface, there are many time-consuming steps to a full investigation and preparing for a trial, such as collecting reports, performing scientific tests and interviewing witnesses.
The next session of the grand jury is set for Oct. 14 and 15, but Wallace said the case against the three won’t be presented until all investigation and trial preparation is complete.
Marlow, Trim and Knowles each face a felony count of making false statements about the incident in June, when they reportedly told Canton Police that Petruzielo nearly hit them as they were walking to the tavern on East Main Street.
Knowles, who made the 911 call saying the superintendent “raced right by me in his white BMW and did not stop,” faces an additional misdemeanor count of false report of a crime.
If convicted of their felony counts of making false statements, Marlow, Trim and Knowles could face between one and five years in jail.
Marlow will also face an ethics hearing Oct. 2 to determine whether or not she violated the school board’s code of ethics when she penned a letter to AdvancED and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in June, alleging the school district was in violation of the agency’s standards.
AdvancED, the agency which decides if school districts are worthy of accreditation, found Aug. 19 the district was not in violation.