Paramedic testifies in court about ‘very traumatic’ scene when discovering Trinity University cheerleader

Mark Howerton murder retrial underway in 144th District Court

SAN ANTONIO – A paramedic who treated an unconscious 19-year-old woman before her death was the first to take the stand in the retrial of Mark Howerton.

Howerton is on trial for the 2017 murder of Trinity University cheerleader Cayley Mandadi.

This is the second trial for Howerton. The first trial in 2019 ended in a hung jury.

Mandadi and Howerton had gone to the Mala Luna Festival in San Antonio and left around 3:30 p.m. after an alleged argument.

According to the state, Mandadi would not be seen or heard from again until 10:30 p.m., when Howerton took her unconscious to a Luling hospital.

Paramedic Sharyl Lane was arriving at the hospital with another patient when she said Howerton flagged her down and was yelling for help.

Lane testified that when she approached the vehicle she found Mandadi in complete disarray.

“Her top was pulled up and her pants were on the floorboard by her ankles,” Lane told the jury. “She had bruises on her thighs and she wasn’t breathing.”

Lane said she immediately started CPR and the entire ordeal was one she would never forget.

“It was very traumatic, what we saw,” Lane said.

Also testifying on the witness stand Tuesday was a Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office sergeant who questioned Howerton.

Sgt. John Calentine’s body camera video of his interview with Howerton at the hospital was shown to the jury.

In the video, Howerton said he and Mandadi had gotten into an argument and then stopped 15 to 20 minutes at a Valero outside San Antonio to have makeup sex.

Howerton said afterwards that Mandadi told him she wasn’t feeling well and passed out. Howerton said he later noticed she wasn’t breathing and drove to the hospital for help.

Calentine can be heard asking what Valero because he didn’t know of one in the area and Howerton said he couldn’t remember.

Howerton also mentioned during the interview that he knew Mandadi had bruises around the throat from choking her while having sex, but that it was all consensual.

Testimony in the trial will continue Wednesday morning. If found guilty Howerton faces up to life in prison.

For more background on this case, watch “Open Court: The Retrial of Mark Howerton.”

About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 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.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.