Jury finds Cedric Marks guilty of capital murder in killings of ex-girlfriend and her friend

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 2:11 PM CDT
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BELL COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) - A jury on May 24 found Cedric Marks guilty of capital murder in the killings of his ex-girlfriend and her friend.

Marks, who acted as his own defense attorney, was on trial in the murders of Jenna Scott, 28, and her friend, Michael Swearingin, 32.

The jury began deliberating at about 1:40 p.m. and announced its verdict shortly after 5 p.m.

Both the prosecution and defense did not hold back and got personal during closing arguments.

First assistant District Attorney,Stephanie Newell, told the jury, “I want the last words that Mr. Marks hears before he’s found guilty are the last words he told Jenna. ‘Are you ready?’ Are you ready Mr. Marks?”

District Attorney, Henry Garza, said to the jury, “How horrible could someone be to bind them, take them somewhere else, tell them you’ll let them go, then kill them? Good God folks, that’s what we’re dealing with here. Two people are responsible for their deaths, and the one who killed them is right here.”

The prosecution went over how the evidence, DNA, cell phone records and camera footage matched up to Maxwell’s confession to detectives. The state kept reiterating if it wasn’t for Maxwell, police would have never been able to find the victims’ bodies, leaving family members without closure.

Marks ended up getting emotional at a point during his closing arguments, begging for his life. He reiterated to not killing the victims. Mark said, “I couldn’t look at the autopsy pictures. Someone broke her left rib. If I knew who did it, I wouldn’t be accused of killing Jenna Scott, I’d be accused of killing them.”

During Marks’ closing arguments, he mainly went over inconsistencies in evidence throughout the trial and how he was excluded as a DNA contributor on the victims’ bodies and belongings. He also said detective Powell and the prosecution created a negative narrative of him for the jury by spinning parts of his life. For example, he said the state bringing up his open marriage made him look like a womanizer, his skills in MMA fighting, and his relationship with Scott.

“We all been through bad breakups. I’m not the only one who cheated or has been cheated on. Look into your own relationships. We all said stupid things, but it didn’t amount to murder,” said Marks.

Marks, who showed no emotion as the verdict was announced in the courtroom, is scheduled for sentencing on June 5, 2023.


The bodies of the victims, initially reported missing in Central Texas, were found on Jan. 15, 2019, in rural Okfusee County, Oklahoma.

Marks was arrested on Jan. 8, 2019, in Kent County, Michigan, on a burglary warrant stemming from a break-in on Aug. 21, 2018, at Scott’s home in Temple, Texas.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by KWTX, Maya Renee Maxwell, 26, who was arrested on Jan. 11 in Muskegon on a Bell County warrant charging tampering with evidence in the case, was present on Jan. 3 at a home in Killeen when Swearingin and Scott were killed.

“Maxwell said that both Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin were alive at the time they were brought to the Killeen residence,” the affidavit states.

“Marks then entered the room where Michael Swearingin was located and when Marks left the room, Michael Swearingin was deceased,” the affidavit further alleged.

“Marks then entered the room where Jenna Scott was located, and when he left that room, Maxwell reported that Jenna Scott was deceased,” according to the affidavit.

“Maxwell reported that she heard a struggle when Marks entered the rooms with both individuals,” the affidavit said.

She also provided information about where the bodies of the two friends were buried in the clandestine grave, the affidavit claimed.