Superior Court Judge Ellen McElyea dismissed the jury at about 3:30 p.m. Friday and said the trial would continue into today. After closing arguments, the jury will begin deliberations on the charges against Marlow, her political adviser Robert Trim and Cherokee GOP Secretary Barbara Knowles.
The defendants are charged with falsely accusing Cherokee Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo of trying to run them down with his car in front of a tavern in downtown Canton after a heated board meeting June 13, 2013.
McElyea said it was “in the interest of justice” for the case to continue today, instead of Monday.
The high-profile trial has drawn media attention and will likely receive more throughout the weekend, due to the well-known parties involved.
The judge’s decision came after she denied the defense’s requests to drop all the charges against Marlow, Trim and Knowles.
Marlow’s attorney, Brian Steel, who is known for his work on high-profile cases, asked McElyea to dismiss the charges against the school board member, saying each of her four counts were not legitimate.
He argued against the jury weighing the charges, citing what he felt were holes in the investigation by the Canton Police Department and statements of doubt by some of the state’s witnesses when he questioned them. He also said some of Marlow’s allegedly false statements simply couldn’t be proven false by watching a surveillance tape which recorded the incident.
“It would be cruel, inhumane,” for the jury to find Marlow guilty on certain charges, Steel said, adding that whatever “motived” Knowles to call 911 to report the incident outside the Painted Pig Tavern wasn’t relevant to Marlow.
As expected, the prosecutor, Chief Assistant District Attorney Rachelle Carnesale, argued against Steel’s requests.
“Mr. Steel is talented at cross examination,” she told the judge, adding that Steel had the witnesses adopt his views about broad possibilities of what could have happened before the trio walked into the camera’s frame. The defense has also consistently brought up to witnesses during the trial the possibility that the trio wasn’t lying, but simply remembering the incident wrong, or perceiving it incorrectly.
Carnesale said the witnesses had been put through “mental gymnastics.”
Anthony Morgese, the attorney representing Knowles, and Trim’s attorney, Michael Duponte, adopted Steel’s arguments for their clients.
Morgese also argued that Knowles never specifically accused Petruzielo of aggravated assault, as her indictment says.
The attorney questioned Capt. Bert Love, a Cherokee Sheriff’s investigator who analyzed the video tape, about whether Knowles had made that accusation to police, based on the investigator’s experience in law enforcement. While she never used those specific words, “All the elements of aggravated assault are there” in what she told police, Love said.
Evidence has revealed Knowles called 911 to report the incident about 20 minutes after she said it happened, and told police during the investigation she felt her life was in danger when Petruzielo drove past. She explained to police she called her husband to advise him before she called 911.
Duponte argued against wording in Trim’s indictment as well, saying Trim never told police he was nearly hit by Petruzielo’s car, as his indictment says. In recorded interviews played in court, Trim can be heard telling police the car came close to him and his heart rate went up.
McElyea deliberated briefly before returning to the court and declining the requests.
The judge said she could find no laws supporting the arguments about alleged missteps in the investigation. She added the attorneys’ statements some of the defendants’ statements to police couldn’t be proven false would be “fertile closing argument material,” but didn’t merit halting the trial.