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Grisly testimony
Man accused of killing with ax appears in court

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Gwinnett County magistrate judge found sufficient evidence Thursday to move charges against a Norcross man accused of murdering his live-in girlfriend to Superior Court.

Gwinnett County Police Department Detective Steven Shaw testified that, after a few rounds of questioning following a 12-hour standoff at a Norcross home last week, Shannon Alan Marlow admitted to striking girlfriend Patricia Rabold in the head with an axe, causing her death.

Thirty-three-year-old Marlow sat in the courtroom motionless, bound in chains and wearing a jumpsuit of black and white stripes Thursday as Shaw recounted the details of the events leading up to Marlow's Feb. 15 arrest and the standoff at his and live-in girlfriend Rabold's Edgemoor Drive home.

Shaw said it was an anonymous tip that led Gwinnett police to Rabold's home last Thursday night - a call stating Marlow's whereabouts and news he was a wanted man.

Shaw said officers confirmed the warrant - a vehicle was reported stolen in DeKalb County and Marlow was the prime suspect.

When officers arrived at the Norcross home the night of Feb. 14, Shaw said the vehicle described in the warrant was found in Marlow's driveway, doors locked and keys nowhere in sight.

Police entered the home to make an arrest, but in a strange twist, found Rabold's bloody body lying in the foyer.

Shaw said officers backed out, unsure if Marlow, who was still inside, was armed.

The department's SWAT was called in to negotiate with Marlow and coax him out of the house.

When Marlow did not respond, Shaw said SWAT officers shot tear gas inside to urge him outside, but when he didn't come out they sent in a robot in an effort to locate him.

Their efforts extended into the early morning of Feb. 15, when the team eventually found Marlow hiding in the attic and made the arrest.

Still inside the home was Rabold, her life apparently taken when she was struck in the head five to six times with both the blunt and sharp ends of a chopping tool. Shaw said the suspected murder weapon, an orange-handled axe, was adjacent to her body.

Due to some initial decomposition, Shaw said medical investigators believed Rabold was killed some days prior to the discovery of her body.

Shaw testified Marlow's initial story was that he went to a nearby QuikTrip gas station for some milk, and when he returned home found Rabold dead. He told investigators someone then hit him over the head, knocking him unconscious and when he woke, the axe was in his hand.

When authorities threatened to get the video surveillance from the gas station Marlow spoke of, his story reportedly changed.

"He said (Rabold) and an unknown male were out to kill him," Shaw told the court. Shaw went on to say Marlow admitted there was conflict between himself and Rabold and the pair exchanged punches, ending with Rabold face down on the floor.

Shaw said Marlow, fearing Rabold was going to kill him, struck her in the head three times with the blunt end of an axe, covered her up with a blanket and drove to the Tucker area in Rabold's Saturn to indulge in a drug binge.

An autopsy of Rabold's body revealed more blows to the head than Marlow admitted and confirmed blunt force trauma was the cause of death. A medical examiner found one of Rabold's fingers was nearly severed and gashes to her right hand and bruised knuckles, leading investigators to believe 47-year-old Rabold attempted to fight back, using her hands to protect her head.

But the list of alleged crimes goes on.

Three days before Rabold's gruesome death, a police report shows she told authorities Marlow had stolen her car, the 1997 Saturn CS1 Marlow told investigators he drove to Tucker after her death.

Rabold reported Marlow had stolen other items from her home and the pair planned to move to Knoxville, Tenn., to "escape from (Marlow's) troubled past."

In addition to Rabold's murder, Marlow is also charged with theft by taking. Those charges have also been bound over to Superior Court.

After sitting through the hearing Thursday, Rabold's daughter, Rachel Rabold, had a few words to say about her mother's alleged killer.

"I just want to make sure he's behind bars," Rachel Rabold said. "I want him to die."