By Kristine Favreau
Killeen Daily Herald
GATESVILLE – After three years of waiting for resolution, Cedric Marks walked out of the 52nd District Court a free man.
Following two days of trial, a jury of nine women and three men acquitted Marks of aggravated assault charges stemming from an incident at the Copperas Cove City Park pool in 2004.
The jury, which went into deliberation on Wednesday, returned a not guilty verdict within 45 minutes.
"Usually, when it comes back from the jury that fast, the verdict ends up being in the state's favor," said Anthony Smith, attorney for Marks. "We just didn't know what to expect. Based on the evidence, we didn't think there was any way a jury could reach a unanimous guilty verdict that fast. In the end, I believe justice was served and now my client can get back to his life."
According to Marks, who admitted to being involved in an altercation with Steven Doyle in 2004, his actions were in his own defense. During testimony Tuesday by Copperas Cove Police Department Officer Shane Kieltyka, the statement originally given by Marks indicates that he believed he was acting in self-defense, and that he was not the first to strike during the altercation.
Marks said that on June 1, 2004, he was at the city pool to pick up his daughter when his car engine caused another vehicle's car alarm to activate. He added that he was not revving his engine, but sitting at an idle when he was approached by Steven Doyle, who asked him to turn his car off.
"My daughter was going to be out in a minute, and it was hot so I didn't want to sit without my air conditioner on," Marks said. "Mr. Doyle became very aggravated and began knocking on my car window and screaming at me. He made what I believed was a racial slur, and then called me a 'black MF.' After I heard that, I exited my vehicle and told him that he didn't want to start anything with me, but Mr. Doyle kept slamming into me, and from there it all just sort of went downhill.
"When I grabbed him after he swung at me, I was not trying to hurt him, I was trying to restrain him, but he just kept fighting me. At that point I realized I was going to have to do something. I didn't want the altercation to spread and possibly involve one of the children that were standing around. I hit him, three times in total, and those punches were by no means full force.
"Unfortunately," Marks said, "they resulted in damage to his face and I will always feel bad about that."
As a result of the injuries, Doyle required surgery to reconstruct his facial bones.
The case had been set for trial two other times, once as a jury trial and once as a bench trial. Bryon Barnhill was first appointed as defense attorney, but after he filed a motion to be withdrawn from the case, the court appointed Smith to represent Marks.
After Smith was appointed as counsel, a request was granted to again set it as a jury trial. Jury selection was completed on Monday and the state rested its case against Marks on Tuesday.
District Attorney David Castillo presented the state's case, which included testimony from Doyle, Jeremy Williams, who was the city pool manager at the time of the incident, Kieltyka, CCPD Investigator Lori Hix and Austin-based retina specialist Dr. Jose Martinez. Castillo was unavailable for comment following the verdict.
Marks took the stand in his own defense Wednesday and re-enacted
the events between himself and Doyle for the jurors. When recalled to the stand to do the same, Doyle's re-enactment did not match what was in his official police statement.
Marks believes that was what turned the jury in his favor. "After that, I really believed the jury was on my side," he said. "The evidence they were given really made it difficult to find any other way."
Although the incident occurred in 2004, Marks was not arrested until the following year, so the matter had been pending in the courts since March 2005.
"It's just incredible that it's finally over," Marks said. "I won't have to come down here every other month. Even though I knew I had acted in my own defense, there was still a chance that I could be going to prison. It is such a relief for it to all be over. Now I just want to relax a little bit, and head home, back to my life."
Marks, a mixed martial arts fighter, currently lives in Washington, where he works as a surgical assistant. Although Marks retired from cage fighting in October of 2003 because of a degenerative spinal disorder, he resumed fighting following physical therapy.
"I really believe that the reason I was arrested was because I am a fighter," he said. "A punch, in and of itself, is not deadly force, but that is how it was looked at in my case. Regardless, it's done now and I can move on."
Contact Kristine Favreau at firstname.lastname@example.org to call (254) 547-3535