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Judge denies motion to throw out death penalty option in trial of MMA fighter Cedric Marks

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MMa veteran Cedric Marks is due to stand trial for two counts of capital murder.

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

Cedric Marks, 46, is due to be tried in court over the 2018 killings of Jenna Scott and Michael Swearingin. Marks, a veteran MMA fighter, is accused of killing his former girlfriend Scott and her friend Swearingin and burying their bodies in shallow graves near Clearview, OK.

Marks is to be tried in Bell County, TX for the crimes. EverythingLubbock reports that Judge Steve Duskie of the 436th Judicial District Court has ruled that the death penalty can be considered in this case, should Marks be found guilty.

This ruling was in response to a motion filed by Marks’ attorneys asking the court to throw out that possibility. Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza argued that the motion should be denied because the court did not have the authority to preclude the death penalty from this case.

Marks’ attorneys also asked for the trial date announcement to be postponed, citing concerns over COVID-19. Judge Duskie denied that motion, too, stating that there were no plans for the trial to begin in the next three to four months.

In August 2018 Scott, who had a protective order against Marks denied months prior, reported a break-in at her home in Temple, TX. Police then issued a warrant for Marks’ arrest in relation to this incident. On January 3rd 2019 Scott and Swearingin were reported missing. Days later Marks was arrested on suspicion of burglary in Grand Rapids, MI. On January 15, while Marks was in custody, Scott and Swearingin’s bodies were discovered.

Marks was then extradited from Michigan to Texas. When Marks was being transported he managed to escape a prison transport vehicle in Conroe, TX, leading Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department on a 9-hour manhunt before he was eventually recaptured.

After Marks was secured in Bell County he was charged with the capital murders of Scott and Swearingin.

Maya Maxwell, who was reported to be Marks’ girlfriend at the time of his arrest, was also arrested and charged with capital murder. She is accused of aiding Marks by hiding Swearingin’s vehicle to obstruct the investigation into his and Scott’s disappearances.

Maxwell, who gave birth to a child fathered by Marks while in prison, has told authorities that she witnessed Marks enter rooms which held the bound Scott and Swearingin while they were still alive and that, when Marks left those rooms, both Scott and Swearingin were deceased.

The child Maxwell gave birth to was immediately taken into custody by Child Protective Services. EverythingLubbock reports that the child is currently in foster care and ‘doing well’.

In February 2020, Ginell McDonough—Marks’ wife—plead guilty to helping Marks and Maxwell hide from authorities.

In March 2020 Marks was charged with an unrelated murder charge. Police in Minneapolis, MN believe he is responsible for the death of April Pease, who has not been seen since 2009. Marks and Pease were in a relationship together and, after the birth of a son, were involved in a custody dispute.

Investigators have stated Marks, along with Kellee Kristine Sorenson, tracked down Pease and that Marks killed her at an unknown location.

When Scott had her protective order against Marks turned down, she told a court that Marks had threatened to kill her and that he had bragged about covering up murders in the past.

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