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Mistrial granted in trial of man accused of killing Trinity cheerleader

Mark Howerton is accused of killing Cayley Mandadi.

SAN ANTONIO — Update: The judge has granted a mistrial in the case of a man accused of killing Trinity cheerleader. 

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The state of Texas and the defense gave its closing arguments in the murder trial for Mark Howerton on Wednesday. Howerton is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, 19-year-old Cayley Mandadi, in 2017.

The state told the jury that Howerton had controlling and possessive tendencies toward Mandadi leading up to her death.

They showed several text messages between the pair to the jury. In one exchange a few days before the incident, Mandadi tells Howerton she needs "some space". The state said Howerton then threatened to kill himself and called her more than 200 times. 

The next day, Howerton sent Mandadi a text apologizing for "yelling and shoving her around."

The prosecutor said, "That's how this defendant acts when he doesn't get his way. That's how this defendant acts when he's jealous and when he's angry with regards to his relationship with Cayley. So he doesn't get a pass for taking her to the hospital lifeless with her pants around her ankles."

The defense said Howerton isn't on trial for being a "manipulative jerk." His attorney said they aren't here to prove Howerton is a good person, just that he didn't kill Mandadi. 

They claim the state has no evidence to convict him.

"What the state has given you is a very long and complicated way of saying a very basic fact," said the defense. "They have no idea what happened to Cayley Mandadi."

The jury began deliberating at 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The judge sent them home at 4:30 p.m. after they failed to reach a verdict. Jurors will pick back up Thursday morning. 

Howerton faces 5 to 99 years in prison if he's found guilty of killing Mandadi.


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