Appeals court allows for retrial of man accused in death of Trinity cheerleader

Mark Howerton charged with murder

SAN ANTONIO – A move to bar a retrial for a man accused of the murder of a Trinity University cheerleader has been denied by the Fourth Court of Appeals.

The ruling means the retrial can move forward.

In 2019, Mark Howerton’s trial ended with a hung jury. He was charged with the murder of 19-year-old Cayley Mandadi.

Howerton’s defense team last August filed a writ of habeas corpus “seeking relief from double jeopardy.”

The Fourth Court of Appeals last week ruled on the writ and denied the appeal.

Howerton faced murder, rape and kidnapping charges in the initial trial in December 2019. Jurors spent nine hours deliberating over two days if Howerton, Mandadi’s boyfriend at the time of her death, was guilty.

Jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Back in 2017, Howerton told investigators that the couple stopped to have consensual sex while driving to Houston, and Mandadi stopped breathing. Medical experts testified that the teen died as the result of blunt force trauma to the head.

According to testimony during the trial, the couple had been dating but Mandadi was planning to end the relationship. Witnesses testified that Howerton was controlling and possessive.

Mandadi was a sophomore at the private San Antonio university and on the cheerleading squad at the time of her death.

There is no upcoming hearing date scheduled yet on this case.


About the Author

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

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