Murder trial begins in 2017 death of Trinity University cheerleader

Mark Howerton charged with murder in death of Cayley Mandadi

The 24-year-old man accused of killing a Trinity University cheerleader in 2017 was in court for the beginning of the murder trial.

San Antonio – The murder trial of a 24-year-old man charged in the slaying of a Trinity University cheerleader began Tuesday.

Mark Howerton is charged with murder in the death of Cayley Mandadi, 19.

Sharyl Lane, a paramedic from the Lockhart and Luling area, testified Tuesday that she was transporting a patient to a hospital in October 2017 when she was flagged down by Howerton.

"Before I even get out, I see a gentleman that's hollering and screaming," Lane said. "I open the door. He's telling me that his girlfriend is not breathing and he needs help."

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Lane said she administered CPR to Mandadi, who was partially nude and covered in bruises, inside a car.

"Her hair was kind of matted," Lane testified. "(She) had bruises on her, just multiple bruises that I just remember seeing."

Mark Howerton is on trial for the slaying of Trinity University cheerleader Cayley Mandadi. (KSAT)

Howerton had told investigators that he and Mandadi were in a relationship, and that they had gotten in an argument after she saw her ex-boyfriend at a music festival. The two were on their way to Houston when they stopped at a gas station.

“(Howerton) remains that there was an argument about her ex-boyfriend,” said prosecutor Alessandra Cranshaw. “That Cayley was not acting the same way she’d been the day before, that they had rough make-up sex. (Mandadi’s) unresponsive, still no brain activity, and a sexual assault exam is performed.”

A medical examiner later determined Mandadi's cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head.

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Although prosecutors told jurors that the relationship between Howerton and Mandadi was abusive, defense attorney John Hunter said there were mistakes in the investigation.

“There is a bruise on Cayley Mandadi’s clavicle and a blue bruise on Caylee Mandadi’s leg that appear consistent throughout the medical records,” Hunter said. “But I think no one would seriously contend that those bruises are, one, necessarily the result of anything that occurred on the 29th of October and number two, directly connected to my client at all.”

Testimony will resume Wednesday in the 144th District Court.

About the Author:

Stephanie Serna is a weekday anchor on Good Morning San Antonio and GMSA at 9 a.m. She joined the KSAT 12 News team in November 2009 as a general assignments reporter.