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MMA fighter Cedric Marks’ case prompts calls for changes to Texas’ protective order laws

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MMA fighter Cedric Marks was charged with two counts of capital murder in March.

Cedric Marks is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and her friend. Bell County Sheriff’s Office

[CW: The following story discusses alleged domestic abuse, harassment, and murder]

Cedric Marks, 44, was charged with two counts of capital murder last month in connection to the homicides of Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin. Scott, who was once Marks’ girlfriend, was denied a protection order against Marks the year before she was killed.

Last week family and friends of Scott and Swearingin met with state representative Hugh Shine in Temple, TX to discuss changes to legislation around Texas’ protective order laws.

Shine said (per Temple Daily Telegram) that the recently introduced Texas House Bill 629 already proposes changes to protective order laws, but that he would seek to amend that bill to address the concerns raised by Scott and Swearingin’s friends and family.

If enacted in its current form, Bill 629 would lead to the establishment of a central and computerized Protective Order Registry containing information on all the protective orders filed and issued in Texas. The registry would be accessible to all law enforcement agencies and members of the public.

Every protective order entries in the system would include the name and birth year of the person who is the subject of the protective order. The entries would also include the text of each specific protective order, as well as the date it was issued and completed. Not all of this information would be available to the public.

The bill states that individuals who file protective orders can choose to have their identity and information hidden from public searches of the registry.

Scott first filed a protective order against Marks in Bell County, TX in July of 2018. In her request Scott alleged that Marks had told her he had gotten away with murder before and that he could do the same in Texas. Scott also alleged that Marks choked her unconscious then allowed her to regain consciousness before choking her unconscious again. Scott also accused Marks of being a “pathological liar” and a “psychopath” who had threatened her and her family.

Judge Paul LePak granted Scott’s request for a temporary protective order.

In September, 2018 LePak denied Scott’s request for a two-year protective order against Marks. According to court records (per KDHnews), LePak was unaware of Marks’ previous felony burglary charges when he made that decision.

During the hearing Scott’s attorney, Carol Benningfield, tried to tell LePak additional information about Marks. However, transcripts show that she was cut off by LePak who cited the length of time the hearing was taking. After the hearing Benningfield said she was trying to tell the court about Marks’ criminal past and his violation of the previous protective order when she was shut down by LePak.

Jonathan Scott, Jenna Scott’s father, has filed a complaint against LePak with the Texas Commission of Judicial Conduct.

In August 2018, a month after LePak denied the two-year protective order, Marks allegedly broke into Scott’s home. It is alleged that while Marks was there he threatened Scott and her family and prevented Scott, and her daughter, from calling 911.

Scott and Swearingin went missing on January 3rd, 2019. On January 8th, Marks was arrested in Grand Rapids, MI in connection to the break-in at Scott’s home.

After the remains of Scott and Swearingin were discovered Marks was transported to Texas and charged with two counts of capital murder. Marks’ pregnant girlfriend Maya Maxwell, 26, was arrested with Marks in Grand Rapids.

Maxwell has also been charged with murder, as well as tampering with physical evidence. She reportedly told police that she moved Swearingin’s vehicle so law enforcement would not be able to locate it.

According to KWTX, Maxwell also told authorities that she was present when Scott and Swearingin were brought, alive, to a residence in Killeen, TX. In a police affidavit Maxwell states that both Scott and Swearingin died after spending time alone in a room with Marks.

Maxwell reported that she heard struggling between Marks and the victims. The affidavit also states that Maxwell provided the location of the remains for both victims.

An autopsy report revealed that Swearingin was strangled and likely died of asphyxiation. The autopsy report for Scott stated she died of “homicidal violence.”

Marks and Maxwell are currently both in custody in Bell County. Maxwell’s bail is currently set at $750,000. Marks’ bail amount is set at $2,016,500 for the homicide charges and $250,000 for a charge of tampering with physical evidence.

Additional charges against Marks include interference with an emergency call, making a false report to a police officer, and violation of a protective order with bias/prejudice.

According to the Temple Daily Telegram, Marks plans to plead not guilty to all charges.

Marks remains a person of interest in the disappearance of April Pease, who disappeared after a custody battle with Marks in 2009.

Support for survivors of domestic violence can be found from the following organizations:

USA - The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Canada - DAWN-RAFH Canada

UK and Ireland - Women’s Aid: 0808-2000-247

Rest of the World - HotPeachPages