Drew Henson of Canton Police was on the stand in court for the majority of the day, as the trial against Marlow, her political adviser Robert Trim and Cherokee GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles moved forward. The trial began Monday and is expected to continue throughout the week.
Henson told the court of what he saw as multiple inconsistencies in the statements the trio made to police about their encounter with Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo outside the Painted Pig Tavern on Main Street in downtown Canton.
While Henson spoke of discrepancies in the statements, attorneys for the defendants brought up what they suggested could have been inadvertent misstatements, because Marlow, Trim and Knowles were remembering wrong or perceived the incident incorrectly.
The defendants, regular critics of the superintendent, were walking to the tavern after a particularly long and contentious school board meeting June 13, 2013, the same night a tornado touched down in Canton. They told police at the time Petruzielo’s car suddenly changed lanes and seemed to accelerate toward them.
Henson testified that, originally, he investigated the incident assuming Petruzielo was the suspect, and Knowles, who made the 911 call, was the victim. Then, the detective received a copy of surveillance video from the tavern.
“I was very concerned after watching the video, based on the statements,” Henson told the court. “They just weren’t matching up … I could tell things weren’t matching what I’ve heard.”
In the video, which was played in court Wednesday, Marlow, Trim and Knowles are seen walking onto the sidewalk in front of the tavern and quickly disappearing into the doorway. They do not linger or watch as the car drives away. Henson said they looked to be walking “casually.”
About 10 minutes after the incident, Knowles called Cherokee County E-911 to report the
alleged aggravated assault, she said to police in a recording played Wednesday, after she called her husband to explain what happened.
The operator who took the call also testified Wednesday and said the report seemed rehearsed and frivolous.
During the investigation, Knowles told Henson she stopped on the sidewalk because she was so shaken up. In the video, she doesn’t stop, instead walking directly to the doorway.
Another inconsistency Henson noted was the order the defendants claimed to reach the sidewalk, and their statements Trim had to push Marlow out of the way of Petruzielo’s car.
According to statements brought out in court, Knowles reached the sidewalk first, followed by Marlow and then Trim.
The video shows Knowles reaching the sidewalk first, with Trim behind her and in front of Marlow.
No push can be seen. But Marlow’s attorney, Brian Steel, questioned Henson about what evidence he had Trim didn’t push Marlow before they entered the frame of the video. Henson said he had none.
After watching the video, Henson said he asked the trio to come downtown and re-enact the incident for detectives. After that request, Trim said he and the others needed to talk first, according to Henson. Trim later called and said they would oblige the request.
The re-enactment was filmed and was also shown in court. In the video, Trim told detectives witnesses had seen the incident. Marlow and Knowles also told police there were witnesses, testimony revealed.
Henson found fault in those statements.
No witnesses can be seen standing in front of the tavern in the video other than a man who was shown in the frame talking on the phone just before the trio walked up.
In a phone conversation played in court, Marlow told Henson: “There were other witnesses there who thought the same thing we did.”
Trim’s attorney, Michael Duponte, pointed out, from the video, there is no way to tell if anyone is standing in the covered entrance of the tavern, which only a small portion of can be seen in the video. It isn’t possible to tell if the defendants stopped in the doorway to talk to witnesses, according to Duponte.
No witnesses were ever named by the defendants, Henson said.
Given the points brought up and the possibilities of what could have happened off camera, Knowles’ attorney, Anthony Morgese, asked Henson if he would still feel comfortable seeking charges for the defendants.
“I would,” Henson responded.
Morgese, like Marlow’s attorney, questioned Henson about how he knew the defendants weren’t simply remembering the incident wrong or hadn’t perceived it correctly.
“Everybody’s perspective is different,” Morgese said to Henson. “Even as you testify here today you refer to your notes, because you can’t remember … You didn’t give them that benefit.”