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Son and father had rocky past

LAWRENCEVILLE - Mark Noble, accused of bludgeoning his father to death with a fireplace poker in 2006, had a history of violence with his old man, family members testified Tuesday.

The father-son relationship was "very volatile," said Noble's sister, Tricia Noble. "They would get into frequent arguments" that led to physical clashes, she said.

Like several years ago, for instance, when the younger Noble cracked his father over the head with a block of wood, his sister testified.

Noble's defense attorney painted a contrasting image of his client during opening statements in Gwinnett Superior Court:

A doting father to a young son. A talented graphic designer. A practicing Rastafarian who'd transplanted from Jamaica to Norcross during his formative years. Mark Noble was all this, his attorney, Richard Goodman, told a jury.

"The state cannot show a single reason why he killed his father," Goodman said, noting no physical evidence connected him to the murder weapon.

Mark Noble, 37, faces murder charges in the death of Rupert Noble, 59, who was beaten to death in the Norcross townhome they shared on Christmas Eve 2006. The following day, worried family members called police, who found the elder's body but no sign of his car or his son.

Police arrested Mark Noble in his father's Honda Accord in Gilmer County, 90 miles northwest of Gwinnett, on New Year's Day 2007. He was reportedly driving with a stolen tag.

Rich Vandever, Assistant District Attorney, called the defendant a 30-something slacker still living under his father's roof without a job or a car when something caused him to lash out.

Mark Noble - sporting ponytailed dreadlocks the length of his back, a full beard and khaki blazer - largely avoided eye-contact with his family who testified.

Daphne Noble - the defendant's mother and the victim's ex-wife - testified that Mark Noble's son had gone to live with his mother in Kansas a few years prior to the killing. The separation left his father distraught, she said, especially around Christmas.

"He just missed his son during the holidays," said Daphne Noble, dabbing her face of tears.

Testimony in the trial is expected to resume today.