Former Cherokee School Board member Marlow, her new husband, Robert Trim, and former Cherokee GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles have filed motions for a new trial, following their convictions in April on charges of lying to police.
District Attorney Shannon Wallace said Monday the motions were the first step in the appeals process.
Superior Court Judge Ellen McElyea, who presided over the trial in April, will decide the motions, but it isn’t yet clear when it will happen, because transcripts of the previous proceedings have to be prepared first, Wallace said.
“If the motion is denied, the defendants in this case may file a direct appeal in the Georgia Court of Appeals,” the district attorney explained. “Presuming the motion is denied, the attorneys will have 30 days to file a notice of appeal which gets the case to the Court of Appeals.”
Wallace said her office doesn’t track how many cases are won or lost on appeal, “but I can say that it is rare to have a conviction overturned on appeal in Cherokee County.”
Marlow, Trim and Knowles were found guilty April 26 of lying to the Canton Police Department, falsely accusing Cherokee Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo of trying to run them down with his car outside a tavern in June 2013.
They were sentenced to 10 years of probation, 60 days in jail, community service, fines and to have no involvement with politics for the next decade.
According to the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, none of the defendants have yet to do any of their jail time, which the judge said could be served any time in the next year.
In their motions for a new trial, the defendants’ attorneys don’t go into great detail about the grounds for their requests and instead simply take issue with the verdict.
“The verdict is contrary to the evidence and without evidence to support it,” Marlow’s motion filed by her attorney May 20 reads, adding a more specific document will be prepared after the trial transcript is ready.
The motions filed by attorneys for Trim and Knowles read the same, to the letter.
Knowles’ motion goes a step further to say the state was unable to prove her guilt.
“The defendant should be acquitted and discharged due to the state’s failure to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” the motion prepared May 23 says. “Although the jury found the evidence sufficient to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the evidence was sufficiently close to warrant this court to exercise its discretion to grant the defendant a new trial.”
Knowles’ husband, Chris Knowles, has written online he felt her conviction was because of his wife’s politics, as she and the other defendants were critics of the superintendent.
During the trial, attorneys for the defendants often focused their case on the idea the trio may have not intentionally lied about the incident, which was caught on a security camera. The attorneys argued the trio may have remembered wrong or misunderstood the incident.
The trio also re-enacted the incident on video for the Canton Police Department. During the sentencing, the judge said their rendition of the events looked like a “fun-house mirror.”
Marlow and Trim, a long-time controversial political player in Cherokee, were married less than a week after their sentencing. The judge, not knowing initially the two were engaged, sentenced them to have no contact with each other.
Marlow’s attorney, Brian Steel, asked the judge to suspend the provision of their sentence for a week so they could wed, as marriage often sways probation officers to allow offenders to be together, regardless of their sentence.