Photo: Courtesy Photo
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On Saturday, the story of Cayley Mandadi, the beloved cheerleader whose death stunned the Trinity University community, will be highlighted by “48 Hours.” “The Final Hours of Cayley Mandadi” will air at 9 p.m. on CBS.
The network says the episode is the “first in-depth” look into the death of the teen and the case against her boyfriend Mark Howerton.
Mandadi was last seen alive on Oct. 29, 2017, while attending the Mala Luna Music Festival in San Antonio with Howerton. He later told police the couple took party drugs and had consensual sex. When he noticed she wasn’t breathing while traveling to Houston after the concert, he rushed her to a nearby hospital in Luling.
Alison Steele, Mandadi’s mother, described the extent of Mandadi’s injuries in the 48 Hours episode.
“Even the most explicit television shows don’t show you what I saw that day,” Steele said. “Did she fall out of an airplane? Was she thrown off a bridge?”
Mandadi was eventually declared brain-dead and was taken off life support on Oct. 31. She was 19.
According to the medical examiner, Mandadi died from blunt force trauma to the face and head. Howerton faced charges of murder, sexual assault and later, with kidnapping. By February 2018, he had turned himself in.
Since there were no witnesses, there was debate as to what led to Mandadi’s injuries — assault, a fall at the concert or the result of life-saving procedures performed at the hospital?
Bexar County prosecutors accused Howerton of killing Mandadi in a jealous rage after she tried to break up with him at the music festival.
“This is a case where there’s more than what meets the eye and things aren’t always what they seem,” said John Hunter, Howerton’s attorney.
While Hunter maintains his client’s innocent, Steele says Howerton, who has been described by Mandadi’s friends as being volatile, killed her daughter.
“He knew that Cayley would be an easy mark, and so he fixated on her,” she told the show. “And when it didn’t go the way he wanted … he snapped.”
Last December, a Bexar County judge declared a mistrial in the case against Howerton after the jury could not reach a verdict.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said he was disappointed in the outcome and would retry the case and “bring justice to Cayley Mandadi.”
On Sept. 13, Steele spoke about the forthcoming episode on a “Justice for Cayley” Facebook page on Sept. 13. She said she understands presentations of her daughter’s death will be depicted without the family’s consent and decided the “best defense is a strong offense,” choosing “48 Hours” to speak to based on its history and ethics.
“If Cayley’s story must be told, then it’s preferable that it be handled by one of the most distinguished news correspondents in America,” she told supporters online.