BELL COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) – Testimony in the Cedric Marks Capital Murder trial continues in Bell County’s 426th District Court on Monday, April 24.
Around 11:05 a.m. on Monday, April 24, Temple PD Crime Scene Technician Kelsey Kemp was the first witness on stand. She photographed Michael Swearingin’s home on January 8. She also took photographs of Marks’ girlfriend, Rebecca Addney, at 2202 Mikulec Drive in Killeen on January 9. In Kemp’s photos, she photographed Texas Ranger Russell taking blood swabs from Swearingin’s hallway and garage floor.
FOX 44’s Earl Stoudemire is in the court room and is sending updates throughout the day. You can follow him on Twitter.
As of just before 1 p.m. on Friday, April 21, City of Austin Crime Scene investigator John Prata was the first witness on stand for the day. He processed Swearingin’s Hyundai Genesis in a car lot after Austin PD impounded the vehicle. In Prata’s processing, he swabbed the car and did latent tape prints to gather fingerprints and DNA from Swearingin’s car. He also collected wrappers left in Swearingin’s car door for detectives to do lab testing on.
Prata noticed the driver’s floor mat in Swearingin’s car was not in the vehicle. Running tests on the latent print cards, Prata did not find fingerprints on the indoor driver handle of Swearingin’s car, nor the radio system.
City of Austin Latent Print Supervisor/Forensic Science Service Department Leader Tyler Belknap took to the witness stand next. He found no matches from the latent prints Prata gathered. Belknap says he then moved the prints into the unsolved database system.
Around 1:45 p.m. on April 21, John Ray Morrison – field service engineer for Hyundai Genesis – was the 16th witness to take the stand. He provided location data for each time Swearingin’s car was turned on on January 3.
As of around 1:50 p.m. on April 21, CEFCO Director of Loss Prevention Steve Kaplan was on the witness stand. He’s provided the court footage of Swearingin’s car at the W. Adams Avenue CEFCO gas station in Temple from January 3. Court then went on break for Marks to look over the footage.
First Baptist Church Director of Operations David Bandy later came to the witness stand. He gave the court surveillance footage from the afternoon of January 3 of a white vehicle driving back and forth in the parking lot to a spot adjacent to where Swearingin’s home can be seen. The overall footage of the white SUV doing this is from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
In a motion of litany to prevent witness prejudice, Danielle Kemp came to the stand to testify she saw Marks in the white SUV on First Baptist Church Temple grounds when the SUV was facing Adams Street – across from where Swearingin’s home was located. Marks requested to disqualify Kemp as a witness – claiming she saw him for a split second making not enough time while driving to make concrete certainty. The judge overruled Marks’ request.
As of around 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, April 20, Swearingin’s girlfriend Rachel Foster was still on the witness stand. She went over text messages she sent Michael, saying they were unusual for Michael to send. Many in the courtroom, including Rachel, got emotional reading the messages.
Rachel said Michael called Marks after Marks saw a Facebook post Michael made about love. Marks then called Jenna threatening to blackmail her, believing Michael’s Facebook post was about Michael being in love with Jenna. To fix this, Rachel said Michael called Marks to make amends and was then threatened by Marks.
Eric Whitman, the eighth witness, later took the stand on Thursday. He is the former co-owner of Full Circle Bar, located at S. 12 Street in Austin – where Swearingin’s car was located. With prosecutors, Whitman has surveillance footage of January 3rd and 4th. Court went to break as Marks looked over the footage.
On Wednesday, April 19, Russell Kurtz was the fourth witness to take the stand. He went through how he looked through Swearingin’s bank account, laptop and security system to find where Michael and Jenna Scott were located. He also aided in building the community timeline of Jenna and Michael’s whereabouts.
Richey Davis was the fifth person on the witness stand. He’s a childhood friend of Michael Swearingin. Davis confirmed the security activity log of Michael’s home from January 3rd. In tracking down the car to Austin, Davis said Michael’s car was left unlocked when found. Davis said that wasn’t a coming thing for Michael to do, and Michael had no spare car key. Before recess, Davis told the prosecutors he reached out to Swearingin’s neighbors to see if they had footage. He found video from January 3rd that evening of a white vehicle near Swearingin’s home. Davis said the neighbors didn’t recognize the vehicle driving back and forth.
Kayla Reece was the sixth witness to take the stand. She was a neighbor diagonal to Swearingin’s home.
Around 11:25 a.m. on Tuesday, April 18, the third witness to take the stand was Michael Swearingin’s friend, Corey Cross. Cross says Michael liked to let others know what was going on, and was very communicative and responsive. “Swearingin was everybody’s best friend,” said Cross.
Cross discussed the community timeline him and the rest of Swearingin and Scott’s family and friends put together detailing Jenna and Michael’s activities of January 3, 2019. Cross mentioned how security records were visible to see activity in Michael’s house, and that vivint at Swearingin’s home was accessed to delete the January 3rd camera footage from 8:30-8:43 PM from Michael’s Google account.
Marks was denied bringing forth one of his exhibits after Corey alleges he saw video of Marks recording Jenna after taking her out of a car. The court then went through doorbell footage of when Swearingin and Scott were last seen on video.
Prosecutors gave opening statements in the trial on Monday, April 17. They provided information on Marks and Maxwell being found near at a Walmart in Henrietta, Oklahoma – where they purchased clothes and a shovel to bury Michael Swearingin and Jenna Scott.
Marks said he would put forth his own evidence to maintain innocence, and to also cross examine everyone who takes the witness stand.
Michael Swearingen’s mother, Deborah Harrison, gave remarks of Swearingen – saying Marks threatened him on court grounds during Scott’s protective hearing in 2018. Jenna Scott’s mother Karen took to the witness stand – sharing that she knew well of Jenna and Mark’s relationship. Karen said Jenna spoke of Mark physically and emotionally abusing her.
As of around 2:45 p.m. on April 17, Marks cross examined Karen and was planning to bring forth exhibits for the jury.
Marks is accused of killing Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin, who were both reported missing from Temple on January 4th, 2019. Investigators later found their bodies in Oklahoma. Scott and Marks were at one time romantically involved, but had broken up. Swearingin and Scott were longtime friends.
Marks is representing himself, with the help of John P. Galligan. Marks fired his attorneys and petitioned to represent himself in 2021. Marks pleaded not guilty to all charges – including burglary and capital murder. If found guilty, Marks faces life in prison or the death penalty.
During almost two months of selection, Marks and the prosecution interviewed close to 200 potential jury members. On April 10, they made their final cuts for the jury and alternates.
Marks’ co-defendant is Maya Maxwell, who is accused of helping him dispose of the bodies of Scott and Swearingin – as well as Swearingin’s car.
Maxwell also gave birth to a son she shares with Marks while behind bars. He is now three years old – and, at last report, is in foster care.