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Forsyth Central grad, Cartersville lawyer killed by client's ex-husband
Antonio Mari, who was killed Wednesday in a murder-suicide, graduated from Forsyth Central High School in 1994 before coming a high school history teacher then lawyer in Cartersville. (Facebook)

Antonio Mari, a Forsyth Central High School graduate who became a well-respected history teacher in Cartersville before establishing a law practice in the area, was shot and killed Wednesday afternoon in a murder-suicide.

Mari, 41, was killed in his law office in Cartersville by suspect Walter Radford, who then went to his wife’s home and killed himself, according to reporting by The Daily Tribune News. Mari had represented Radford’s wife in a divorce petition in Bartow County Superior Court that same morning.

Mari had been in Cartersville since 2000, but he spent his formative years in Forsyth County. According to Mari’s mother, Charlotte Driskell, his family moved to the county in 1985, and Mari first attended Chestatee Elementary School.

Mari’s grandparents had a house on Lake Lanier, and Mari spent much of his summers there swimming and waterskiing. He played all manner of sports – baseball and football and soccer – and worked all sorts of jobs, including at HoneyBaked Ham Company and Ingles.

By the time Mari was a senior at Central in 1993, he thought he wanted to be a journalist. Mari worked part-time for the Forsyth County News covering high school sports. Driskell remembers him reporting on local high school football games, staying at the paper’s office late into the night to finish his stories and see them through to publication.

“He was just one of those people who was just enthusiastic about everything,” said Driskell, who lives in north Forsyth. “He really wanted to be in journalism, but he was afraid he couldn’t make a living at it. He would go and cover the football games, and then go back … to the old office and write it up. And he’d be there late into the night. … He loved it. He just loved it.”

Instead, Mari studied education and history at the University of Georgia. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from Kennesaw State University, then got a job to teach history at Cass High School in Cartersville.

Mari stayed there from 2000 to 2011, teaching history and Advanced Placement European history, according to an obituary. Eventually, he became head of the school’s social studies department. During that time, he got married to his wife, Stephanie.

All the while, Mari went through law school at the John Marshall Law School’s Atlanta campus. Driskell said he passed the bar exam on his first try, and in 2011 he left teaching at Cass to open his own law office in a quaint house on Tennessee Street in Cartersville.

“He always wanted to just have a little one-person, country-style attorney’s office and help people,” Driskell said. “He wasn’t in it for the money.”

That’s where authorities found Mari Wednesday. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

News of Mari’s death shocked the Cartersville community, and an outpouring of remembrances and sympathies was swift on social media.

“The Cass family’s deepest sympathies go out to the Mari family! Mr. Antonio Mari was a great friend, teacher, mentor and lawyer. He will truly be missed,” Cass High School posted on its Facebook page.

On Friday, Driskell was thinking of Mari’s wife, Stephanie, who had had surgery about a month ago. Driskell said Stephanie stayed in the hospital six days and nights, and Mari didn’t leave her side.

“That’s the kind of person he was,” Driskell said.

A Celebration of Life service for Mari is scheduled for Sunday, June 25, at 4 p.m., at Owen Funeral Home in Cartersville, and a memorial at the Bartow County Courthouse is set for Wednesday, June 27.