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Friends of murdered Trinity University cheerleader testify on fourth day of Mark Howerton's trial

Howerton accused of raping and killing his ex-girlfriend in 2017.

SAN ANTONIO — Friends of a Trinity University cheerleader killed in 2017 took the stand Friday,—the fourth day of testimony in the trial of Mark Howerton. He is accused of sexually assaulting and murdering his ex-girlfriend, Cayley Mandadi.

One college senior who testified stated he was friends with both Howerton, who he met in the summer of 2014 at a dance hall, and Mandadi, who he met in 2016 at Trinity.

The Trinity student first spoke of an incident that occurred at a party in the fall of 2017, where Howerton showed up and told him he trashed Mandadi's dorm room earlier that day before proceeding to take items belonging to her out of a backpack. 

"Mark said that he is going to go get drinks and then I said, 'OK, do your thing,'" the student testified. "And then him and Cayley walk towards where the drinks would be, and that was the last time I saw them." 

He also spoke about the last time he saw Mandadi alive when the three of them were attending the Mala Luna Music Festival. Afterward, he says, all three of them smoked weed and took MDMA, also known as Molly. 

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"He's in a bit of a rage and he has some of Cayley's belongings," he testified. "He throws some of the objects into the street along with smashing a laptop."

Court documents state Howerton told officers he and Mandadi were headed toward Houston after the festival when they stopped to have sex. In a Guadalupe County deputy's body camera video, Howerton admitted to having consensual rough sex with Mandadi, but said she later fell ill. 

Mandadi died at a hospital in Luling, having been driven there by Howerton, who was 22 years old at the time.

The trial will continue Monday with a verdict likely to come mid-week. Howerton is facing rape and murder charges, and, if convicted, could spend between five and 99 years in prison.


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