BELL COUNTY, Texas — After four long years, the trial for former mixed martial arts fighter Cedric Marks is set to begin on Monday, April 17.
The Central Texas man is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, Jenna Scott, and her friend, Michael Swearingin, in Temple back in January 2019.
This case is a complicated one that involves multiple people, dark pasts, multiple documents and crosses state lines. Below, you'll find a recap of the case.
Jenna Scott & Michael Swearingin's disappearance
It was a calm Saturday morning on Jan. 5, 2019. The Temple Police Department made a post on Facebook that day asking for the public’s help to find two missing friends: Swearingin, 32, a salesman, and Jenna Scott, 28, a nursing student at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor.
The two were last seen the day before driving a gray Hyundai Genesis, according to the post.
The day after the pair disappeared, Swearingin's car was found in Austin, according to Talon Scott, Jenna Scott's brother.
"His car was found on 12th East Street and they found his phone a block away," Talon Scott said in 2019.
He also told 6 News at the time that he feared for their safety
"I believe that my sister is being held hostage somewhere,” he said. “Time is of the essence. I believe this is a very serious situation."
At the time, Talon Scott said his sister was dating a man in Killeen who she met on Tinder back in 2015. He was described to be a former MMA fighter known as Cedric "Spider-Man" Marks.
Although he had not been named a suspect at the time of Jenna Scott's disappearance, Marks defended himself in an email he sent to 6 News.
“I’ve been turned into a monster," he wrote. "There's a witch hunt going on for something that I’ve had nothing to do with."
Protective Order against Marks
As the search for the two wore on, 6 News learned Jenna Scott had filed for a protective order against Marks in July of 2018.
In the document, Jenna Scott claimed she feared for her life.
"He told me he had killed someone in Oklahoma but that he was able to cover it up and that he could do the same here in Texas," the document said.
She also said Marks choked her into unconsciousness.
"On two occasions, he choked me until I lost consciousness. Each time, he allowed me to regain consciousness and then he choked me out again," according to the document.
Jenna Scott described similar instances to Judge Paul Lepak during a protective order hearing on Aug. 15, 2018, just months before she disappeared.
"He wants to take away my dreams, my livelihood, and my future," Jenna Scott testified. "Anything that's important to me, significant in my life, he wants to destroy me."
At the same trial, Marks testified and claimed Jenna Scott was the abuser and that things he's done to her were in self-defense.
"Jenna Scott would do enough just to hook, to keep me in," Marks testified. "She knew how to just do just enough to keep me going and a lot of times she beat me, she punched me."
Ultimately, Lepak denied the protective order.
"I am not super comfortable with my ruling, but I find that what I heard was very likely defensive measures and so I don't think it's appropriate for a protective order," LePak said on Sept. 17, 2018.
READ MORE: Family of Temple woman killed in double homicide starts petition to change Texas protective order laws
Cedric Marks arrested
On Jan. 8, Marks was arrested in Grand Rapids, Michigan for reportedly breaking into Jenna Scott's home. He was charged with burglary and set to be extradited to Bell County.
Two other people were also arrested in Michigan: Ginell McDonough and Maya Maxwell.
McDonough, who is Marks' wife and mother of two of his kids, was arrested for reportedly harboring fugitives, police said. Marks and Maxwell were reportedly staying with McDonough from Jan. 5, 2019 to Jan. 9, 2019.
Maxwell, who was arrested on Jan. 11, 2019, told police she moved Swearingin's car to Austin to hide it from officers. She was charged for tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.
Bodies found in Oklahoma
On Jan. 15, 2019, two bodies were discovered in a shallow grave in the small town of Clearview, Okla., just south of Tulsa, the Temple Police Department said.
Two days later, an autopsy by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office confirmed the bodies were of Jenna Scott and Swearingin.
6 News traveled to Clearview, Okla. and learned Cedric Marks had ties to the area. Turns out, his family lived there.
“Yes, we know him. We’ve seen him. His dad grew up here in Clearview. We have a family reunion every year here," said Shirly Nero, cousin of Cedric Marks.
After the bodies were found, the grieving process began for both families. Jenna Scott's father, Johnathan Scott, said the feeling was overwhelming.
“We are grieving of course,” he said. “We have been for several days now. But it’s still pretty surreal and difficult to process.”
The two were laid to rest on Jan. 25, 2019 and Jan. 26, 2019.
On April 3, 2019, Oklahoma authorities released Jenna Scott's cause of death, saying she was strangled.
Maxwell: Marks killed Scott and Swearingin
According to an arrest affidavit, Maxwell told police Marks killed both Jenna Scott and Swearingin and that their bodies were dumped in Clearview, Okla.
Maxwell told police the two were alive when Marks brought them to a Killeen residence, according to the affidavit. Maxwell told police she heard a struggle when Marks entered the rooms with Swearingin and Jenna Scott, the affidavit continues.
READ MORE: Cedric Marks killed Jenna Scott, Michael Swearingin at Killeen home, witness claims in arrest affidavit
She also told officers she was there when both bodies were buried in Oklahoma, according to the affidavit.
Maxwell was also charged with capital murder. Her trial date has not been set, but she does have a hearing scheduled for April.
Cedrick Marks escapes
Despite their bodies being discovered, authorities didn't name Marks a suspect.
It wasn't until after he escaped from a prisoner transport van while stopped in Conroe and set-off a nine-hour manhunt in Montgomery County in February when they deemed him a suspect in their deaths.
Seventeen agencies were involved in the extensive search. Authorities used K9 units, scoped through surveillance footage, all to get a better idea of where Marks was located.
READ MORE: Families of Jenna Scott, Michael Swearingin react to Cedric Marks' escape, return to Bell County
Turns out, Marks was hiding in a 55-gallon trash can while still in shackles. Authorities believed he was inside the trash can the entire time he escaped and didn't make contact with anybody.
Marks was later booked into the Bell County Jail on Feb. 3, 2019. He was charged with capital murder of multiple persons and other charges, including interference with an emergency call, false reporting to a law enforcement agency employee, violation of a protective order, and burglary of a habitation and committing a crime.
In a jailhouse interview with 6 News, Marks claimed he wasn't trying to escape.
"Despite what the media put out, I was not trying to escape,” Marks said. "I was actually in fear, and I was not going anywhere at all... Like I said, the media has put out a witch hunt for me and I am not guilty."
Marks' bond amount was raised on Feb. 4 from $16,500 to $250,000 for the charge of burglary of a habitation and $1.5 million for the charge of capital murder of multiple persons.
Watch the full news release on the search for Marks below.
A third murder charge
The case against Marks in Texas, would eventually lead to another murder charge. This time, the charge stems from Bloomington, Minnesota.
6 News learned Marks was in a custody battle with a woman named April Pease over their son. Pease was staying in a women’s shelter in Minnesota when she went missing in March of 2009.
Police believe marks killed Pease and hid her body, which has yet to be found. He was charged in 2020 with second-degree murder in connection with her death.
Police say they are waiting to pursue extradition until after his trial in Texas.
Headed to trial
The capital murder trial against Marks has been delayed repeatedly throughout the years.
In June 2021, Marks argued for and won the right to represent himself in his trial. (This won't be the first time Cedric Marks has represented himself in court. He argued to have that protective order dismissed that Scott filed against him back in 2018, mentioned above.)
Since winning the right to represent himself, Marks has made multiple "discovery requests" or requests for information relevant to his defense, which caused complications for prosecutors, which you can read here.
As both the prosecution and defense (Marks) continued to make requests in this case, they continued to have it pushed back. Marks had a trial date set for April 2021, but then it was pushed back to June 2021. It was then pushed back to November 2022, but once again was delayed to start in February 2023.
On Feb. 21 this year, jury selection began. On Monday, April 17, the trial is finally set to begin. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.
*Be sure to tune into 6 News on air and online for daily recaps in the double-murder trial against Marks.*
Watch 6 News' coverage on the Cedric Marks trial in the playlist below.