BELTON, Texas (FOX 44) – Testimony in the Cedric Marks Capital Murder Trial continues in Bell County’s 426th District Court on Monday, May 8.
On Monday, May 8, Stephen Favela finished his time on the witness stand from Friday, May 5. His final test results from May 5 show the hair strands from the Red Jeep floor were dissimilar to Jenna and Michael. On Friday, Judge Steve Duskie had to excuse one of the jury members in the private court discussion. This jury member is still not present.
Texas DPS forensic expert Kylee Morrison followed up on Favela’s findings. She found no trace evidence similarities to Jenna and Michael from items in Ginell’s home and the suitcase in her office.
Texas DPS DNA Expert Erin Casmus took to the witness stand on the afternoon of Monday, May 8. She testified being unable to find DNA on anything at the burial site. Results on the Hyundai Genesis show a probable chance of having Cedric Marks’ and Maya Maxwell’s DNA on it, but couldn’t make confirmation.
Casmus finished her time on the witness stand being cross examined by Marks. Marks reviewed the lab results, showing no distinct tie to him or Maya having DNA on Jenna and Michael. Marks asked if it’s possible to wipe DNA without leaving DNA behind. Casmus says it is possible. Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Newell countered Marks’ statements for the jury learn gloves could have been used for lack of DNA. DNA could be transferred through any form of contact, and barriers could be used to avoid leaving DNA behind.
FOX 44’s Earl Stoudemire is following the events on his Twitter. You can check out the updates here.
On Friday, May 5, Texas DPS Forensic Expert Stephanie Meek was the first witness to speak. She did seven case prints on Cedric Marks, and processed items from Michael’s home and Hyundai Genesis. Texas DPS Forensic Expert Bonnie Manno did two additional case prints outside of Meek’s work, and also had inconclusive results.
Texas DPS Forensic Biologist Patricia Hafkey spoke on the witness stand, and processed Jenna and Michael’s clothes and items in Michael’s home for biological evidence. She found little to no results in her findings.
Texas DPS Forensic Science Trace Evidence Expert Stephen Favela testified on the witness stand and processed hair strands from the Toyota RAV4, Michael’s Hyundai Genesis, the suitcase located in Ginells office, and Jenna and Michael’s clothes.
The prosecution made a motion to admit evidence from the last hair results test – which they received on Friday, May 5. However, the judge denied this motion due to Marks – saying it’s a late submission for the trial.
On Thursday, May 4, Judge Steve Duskie allowed Killeen Police Detective Amanda Holtzclaw to speak on the witness stand. She did the domestic violence casework between Marks and Jenna Scott in 2018. Holtzclaw testified she spoke to Cedric Marks and Jenna Scott individually after Marks was served a protective order on July 31, 2018 at 2:08 p.m.
51 minutes later that day is when Marks came to the Killeen Police Department with videos and audio clips he wanted to present of Jenna assaulting him. Holtzclaw testified she spoke with Marks on August 7, 2018 and was told by Marks the video was made in May.
The next day, Marks filed charges against Jenna for her to get arrested. In contrast, when Jenna spoke to Holtzclaw on August 14, 2018 providing photo evidence and information, Holtzclaw found out Marks lied on when the video was made.
Holtzclaw found out the video of Jenna hitting Marks was taken in January and charged Marks for filing a false police report and a misdemeanor for bodily injury assault. January is also the same period from what Holtzclaw says is when Jenna was documented to have taken an abortion pill.
Jenna’s father, Jonathan Scott testified on May 4, 2023 – saying Marks broke up with Jenna in March 2018 and added their relationship was done by May/June 2018. On June 2, 2018, Marks says this is the day he recorded an audio clip between him and Jenna Scott after they had a physical altercation. Marks alleged Jenna punched him multiple times in this altercation.
Holtzclaw said she had documentation of Marks saying he put Jenna in a rear naked chokehold in this same situation. Holtzclaw also mentioned Marks sent UMHB a video on July 21, 2018 of Jenna hitting him among other messages causing Jenna to drop out of school.
On August 21, 2018, Holtzclaw says she got an email from Jenna saying Marks broke into her home, threatening her and her daughter. Marks responded later in the trial saying the protective order served against him ended on August 18, 2018.
Marks says he went to Jenna’s home on August 20 and August 21 to drop off items. In relation to the break in, Jonathan Scott provided the court home security footage from those days.
The video on August 20 shows Marks knocking on the door looking in the window and trying to open it. On August 21, the video show Marks walking to the house to immediately grab the door handle.
Detective Holtzclaw, former Temple PD Officer Corey Powell and other law enforcement responded to Jenna’s home. Jenna Scott’s protective order hearing against Marks was dismissed on September 17, 2018.
Holtzclaw testified being at the Bell County courthouse this day telling Marks to leave Jenna alone and stop making contact. In the same day, Holtzclaw witnessed Marks and Maya Maxwell encounter Jenna and her father as they were leaving the courthouse.
Jonathan later testified Maya Maxwell passed Jenna a blanket in that moment and said “kill yourself b****,” for Marks to then drive off. Jonathan added a vehicle appearing to have Marks and Maxwell inside of it flicked them off as Jonathan and Jenna left the area.
On October 31, 2018 and November 5, 2018, Holtzclaw testified receiving emails from Scott about packages being delivered to her home. The first package had a t-shirt of Jenna and Cedric on it with a handwritten letter Jenna wrote. The second package had another letter typed out. The first package came from a Fort Hood address, and the second address came from Title Boxing Gym where Marks used to work.
In Marks cross examination with Holtzclaw, he asked if she has a history of going after men who file domestic violence claims which Holtzclaw denied. To counter Holtzclaw’s statements of Jenna wanting to avoid Marks, Marks played the audio clip from what he says was recorded on June 2, 2018.
In the audio, Scott is heard saying she wants to get back with Marks. Marks tells Scott to leave him alone and she abused him when she broke up with him. Jonathan Scott testified Marks broke up with Jenna in March 2018, and added their relationship was done by May/June 2018. Marks wanted to play a second audio clip, but the prosecution objected. The judge sustained this motion since Holtzclaw said she’s never heard of the second audio.
Former Temple Police Department Detective Corey Powell spoke last on the witness stand on May 4, 2023. Powell provided details on how he started the investigation into Cedric Marks and the search for Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingen. Powell testified how he created multiple search warrants for any information from January 1 to January 6.
Powell then got emotional remembering the journey he took from Michigan to Oklahoma to discover where Jenna and Michael were buried. Powell will speak again later in this trial once out of state law enforcement partners testify how they helped in the overall case.
On Wednesday, May 3, Marks cross examined his wife Ginell McDonogh on their relationship, Marks relationship with Maya Maxwell and what Ginell knows of Marks relationship with Jenna Scott. On the witness stand, Ginell admitted to being scared of law enforcement and willing to do whatever is needed to avoid consequences.
Ginell admitted their child Logan, and Adrian, whose mother is April Pease, testified for Marks in Scott’s protective court hearing in against Cedric in 2018. With Ginell making this statement, Marks played in court a video of himself and Jenna Scott in an altercation. In doing this, the judge told Marks to stop the video and the jury to leave the room.
District Attorney Henry Garza objected to Marks playing the video, saying it was an attempt to smear Jenna Scott’s name. Marks said he played the video since the prosecution opened the door on May 2 going through Ginell’s messages with a screenshot of the video in her phone.
With the prosecution doing this on May 2, Marks said he felt it was okay to play the video in front of the jury for Ginell to refresh her memory – being that it’s already evidence admitted by the state. Judge Steve Duskie overruled Garza’s objection. Judge Duskie says the video has been admitted, but says it can’t be played in court due to a motion of limine.
In response, D.A. Garza wanted to admit new evidence to show Marks character, history and behavior of violence. Garza then asked Ginell of what she knew about the 2009 disappearance of April Pease. In response, Ginell confessed Marks told her he killed April Pease a few years after Pease was reported missing. Ginell said she received two VHS tapes from Marks saying he did this to save his son Adrian from April.
Ginell cried when making this confession to Garza. Ginell gave the VHS tapes to Minnesota Police, and admits lying to them in her first interviews. Ginell then said she eventually changed her statements due to guilt. In Marks’ cross examination with Ginell over the VHS tapes, Ginell said she never saw the videos until Minnesota Police played them. Ginell also admits she lied to authorities under the circumstances for when Marks made this confession not being true.
With these statements from Ginell, Marks made the motion to deny the VHS tapes being admitted into court due to the trials focus on Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin. After recess, Judge Steve Duskie sustained Marks objection to not admit the VHS tapes into evidence – mentioning jury prejudice. The judge also overruled Garza’s objection for the video Marks played before recess to be allowed in front of the jury.
After the judge made this decision, McDonough was examined again by both the prosecution and Cedric Marks.
She testified Marks asked her to delete messages between them and to lie to police about his whereabouts when he traveled from Michigan to Texas.
McDonough also told Marks she had no direct knowledge of what happened in TX and Oklahoma when speaking to police
However with the prosecution, McDonough did say Maya Maxwell told her about what happened before McDonough did her interview.
After McDonough left the stand, the prosecution wanted to bring Killeen Det. Amanda Holtzclaw to the witness stand.
Outside the presence of the jury, Garza said Holtzclaw had information to add to the probative value and admissibility of Marks bad acts having 5 pending misdemeanors and felonies.
Detective Holtzclaw did domestic violence casework with both Jenna Scott and Cedric Marks in 2018.
Holtzclaw said outside of the jury, Jenna contacted Holtzclaw to say she was going to have an abortion as Marks and Scott were filing charges against each other.
Marks did add to say if Holtzclaw is able to speak, it would extend the trial by weeks to defend himself against the pending allegations and says this is an act of retialiation by the prosecution because Marks played his video.
At the end of the day, Judge Steve Duskie did say he would have a decision at court on the morning of Thursday, May 4 to decide if Holtzclaw can testify in front of the jury.
The third week of the Capital Murder trial of Cedric Marks officially started on Tuesday, May 2. Monday’s proceedings were cancelled because Marks reported he was too sick to appear in court.
Marks is accused of killing Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin, and then burying their bodies on a piece of land his family owns in Oklahoma.
Temple Police Forensic Detective Tom Wolf was the first witness to speak Tuesday. He received and extracted data from Cedric Marks’ devices, and also got limited info from Jenna Scott’s phone and Michael Swearingin’s tablet.
Regional Organized Crime Info Center Forensic Video specialist Kennedy Ring was the next witness to speak on the morning of Tuesday, May 2. Per Temple PD Det. Corey Powell’s request, Ring clarified select footage from January 3 – 4, 2019. Ring presented the jury enhanced videos she worked on with magnified frames of Swearingin’s neighborhood surveillance, Whataburger footage, Walmart footage, and footage from First Baptist Church Temple.
In Ring’s enhanced Walmart surveillance footage, it shows the man and woman who appear to be Cedric Marks and Maya Maxwell – with the woman’s shoes resembling the same pair Michigan law enforcement seized when searching Ginell’s rental home.
As of around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 2, Cedric Marks’ wife Ginell McDonogh is on the witness stand. The prosecution has now gone through Ginell’s messages and call log from Jan. 1 – Jan. 9. In Ginell’s multiple calls between Maya and Marks in this time period, Ginell says she doesn’t remember any of the conversations.
On Friday, April 28, Detective Forney was recalled by the prosecution.
Texas Ranger Adam Russell was the second witness to speak on the morning of April 28. He helped Kelsey Kemp process Swearingin’s home, Adney’s home and her Toyota RAV4. Russell testified he traveled to Oklahoma to help excavate where Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin were located, and helped transport evidence back to Texas. Russell even measured the distance from the burial site to Marks family plot at Northfork cemetery to be 703 yards.
From the gravesites, Russell received swabs from items placed at the camper site from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. One of the physical items Russell received was a Gatorade bottle placed inside the grave with Jenna and Michael. Russell then testified going to Michigan to help Temple Dectetives Corey Powell and Ashley Cunningham collect evidence from Michigan State Police. Russell said he was also present for one of Powell’s interviews done in Michigan with Cedric Marks.
Prosecutors requested to speak outside the presence of the jury, and said they have new evidence outside the discovery of Powell’s interviews with Marks’ family and friends after Marks attempted to escape in Conroe. Marks requested for these interviews to not be submitted into court – saying Ranger Russell wasn’t present for these interviews, and that it could cause jury prejudice for an act he wasn’t charged for.
Court was about to resume as Marks had time to review the extracted phone data from Thursday, April 27. Marks says this was a last minute move by the state.
Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza and Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Newell said the videos aid in supplementary reports made by Detective Powell of his interviews with Maya Maxwell and Ginell McDonogh. The judge gave Marks and his counsel time to look over this footage — and allowed Michigan law enforcement to be virtually summoned for recall.
In response, Marks asked the judge to squash the in-person subpeona for Ginell – saying there’s a transportation conflict for her to fly in from Tennessee leaving her kids by themselves. The judge denied Marks’ request and asked Marks to work with his wife to make arrangements.
After this discussion, Marks cross examined Texas Ranger Adam Russell – who testified on the morning of April 28. Under questioning, Russell admitted he did not know the test results from the blood swabs gathered from Swearingin’s home. Russell also said he was unaware if DNA was gathered on the water bottle gathered from the burial site of Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin.
Along with the severe weather, judge Steve Duskie ended trial early on April 28 to give Marks time to finish looking over the extracted phone data and video footage.
On Thursday, April 27, Grand Rapids PD Officer Joe Garret was first on the witness stand. He worked with U.S. Marshals to arrest Marks at a mall in Michigan on January 8, 2019.
Michigan State Police Dectective John Forner came to the witness stand next. Forner tracked down where Marks, Maya Maxwell and Janell McDonough were staying at on Palmer Street, Muskegon, MI. He helped conduct the search warrant and seized Marks’ Red Jeep and Maxwell’s White Subaru.
Forner testified he received information in his interview with Maxwell. The location where Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin were buried. Forner gave Maya’s information to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations for the excavation process to begin. After Jenna and Michael’s bodies were found, Forner did additional interviews with Maxwell and McDonough. Forner also mentioned Maxwell voluntarily gave this information not being taken into custody.
In the search and seizure of Marks’ red jeep, Forner said there was a background report paper of Jenna Scott inside the vehicle. Forner also testified seeing Janell deliver papers, photographs, and VHS tapes to the Bloomington, Minnesota police department. The car search happened on January 10, and the background report paper had the time code of being printed on October 18, 2018.
During trial on Wednesday, a bailiff removed Marks from the courtroom because of an outburst he aimed at the judge and prosecutors. He accused them of preventing him from successfully representing himself. When court resumed, Marks apologized for the outburst.
Prosecutors presented surveillance footage from a Walmart that showed two people who appeared to be Marks and Maya Maxwell buying a shovel, thermal clothing, shoes, and an exacto knife. According to a receipt, the purchases were made on January 4th, 2019 at 4:09 p.m.
During his cross examination, Marks presented several screenshots from the same video, but one was not admitted into court due to alterations.
Earlier, Leon Neal was the first witness to take the stand. Marks wanted to exclude Neal from speaking in front of the jury, saying Neal had lack of identifying Marks on January 4 near the Shannon property where Michael Swearingin and Jenna Scott were located. The judge overruled Marks motion, and Neal was able to testify in front of the jury.
Neal says he spoke with a black man near the Shannon Property, saying he was showing his girlfriend his old stomping grounds and had knowledge of the area. In Marks’ cross examination with Neal, Neal said he couldn’t confirm with certainty the man he spoke with the night of January 4 was Marks himself – and was unable to identify the vehicle. Neal was only able to say it was a dark vehicle.
Leon’s distant relative and hunting partner, Justin Massey, was with him that day – and gave a similar testimony to what Neal said.