Jurors shown photos of numerous injuries, bruising found on Trinity student’s body

Mark Howerton faces up to life in prison if found guilty of murder

Mark Howerton leaving court during his retrial. (Ksat 2023)

SAN ANTONIO – Jurors viewed more than 50 photos on Tuesday showing the extent of the injuries that led to the death of a Trinity University student.

Cayley Mandadi‘s death was ruled a homicide due to blunt force trauma to the head.

Her boyfriend, Mark Howerton, is on trial for murder.

In court, sexual assault nurse examiner Rachel Vernon spoke about the almost eight-hour examination she did on Mandadi the day after she was taken unconscious to a hospital.

”She had clusters of injuries,” Vernon said.

Photos showed bruising and scratches on Mandadi’s arms, legs, thighs, face chest and one of her ears.

The photos also showed Mandadi in a hospital bed with blood coming out of her nose and mouth.

These were some of the same photos shown during Howerton’s first trial in 2019.

That trial ended in a mistrial when the jury couldn’t reach a verdict.

Mandadi was taken to a Luling hospital about seven hours after leaving the Mala Luna Festival on Oct. 29, 2017, with Howerton.

Howerton told the police the couple was arguing and left the festival. He said they made up at a nearby gas station parking lot by having consensual sex and then when they continued driving toward Houston, he noticed she had stopped breathing.

On the stand, Vernon said while she examined Mandadi, she couldn‘t say what caused her injuries or when they actually happened.

On Tuesday, in a video interview with Howerton that was shown to the jury, Howerton told police that the bruising on Mandadi could have been from “rough sex” or from her falling when she was drunk.

Testimony will continue in the 144th District Court on Thursday.


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.