Forum Paul LePak

Paul LePak, who was appointed to the 264th District Court judgeship on June 25, speaks to potential voters on April 11 during a candidates’ forum at Schoepf’s Barbecue in Belton. 

BELTON — The father of a Temple homicide victim filed a complaint against Bell County 264th District Court Judge Paul LePak with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct Wednesday night.

 The complaint — which Jonathan Scott said consisted of just four sentences — was filed because LePak declined to issue a two-year protective order against Killeen resident Cedric Joseph Marks, 44 — now charged with capital murder in the Jan. 3 deaths of Jenna Scott, 28, and Michael Swearingin, 32.

“I have very little faith to believe it will actually lead to anything,” Scott said. “The system is broken.”

LePak responded Thursday to a Telegram request for a comment to the complaint by saying, “The Code of Judicial Conduct doesn’t allow judges to comment.”

In the transcript of the Aug. 15, 2018, hearing obtained by the Telegram, LePak said he wasn’t certain about his ruling to deny Scott the two-year protective order.

“But I am not real comfortable with that ruling at all and so be cautioned,” LePak told Marks on Sept. 17 in connection with Scott’s application for a 2-year, no-contact protective order. “The request is denied at this time.”

Marks also stands charged with a reported Aug. 21 burglary of Scott’s Temple home.

When the Aug. 15 hearing didn’t result in a final ruling because LePak wanted more time to consider the case, LePak put in place another protective order that wasn’t based on a violence ruling. That order was in place until the hearing continued Sept. 17.

Burglary not brought up

The home burglary wasn’t brought up during the Sept. 17 hearing, although it reportedly occurred while a temporary protective order was in effect.

Carol Benningfield, Scott’s attorney, told LePak that additional things happened since the last hearing, but decided to not share it during the hearing, the transcript said.

Benningfield told the Telegram Thursday, “The judge cut me off at the final hearing and would not allow us to enter further evidence. In the transcript I called it ‘events,’ but he did not want to hear any more evidence and made that abundantly clear.”

Without hearing that information, LePak had no way of knowing it reportedly occurred and could not consider it.

Marks wasn’t charged by the Bell County District Attorney’s office until Nov. 9 on that count — although Scott made the report Aug. 21, an arrest affidavit said.

Jonathan Scott said he argued briefly with a female Temple Police officer the day the burglary reportedly happened about how the investigation was handled, and even followed up on it a couple of days later. The only charge listed against Marks was violation of a protective order, he said.

“I didn’t understand why he wasn’t charged with burglary or trespass or breaking and entering when it happened,” Jonathan Scott said. “I will never understand that. Why did it take until November?”

Marks’ attorney for the burglary charge is Mary Beth Harrell. She did not respond to Telegram calls.

Karen Scott, Jenna’s mother, said her daughter wanted protection “so she could move forward with her life without living in fear.”

“Jenna was a woman who turned her life around and was determined to help people,” Karen said.

Karen Scott also doesn’t understand how LePak could believe a “pathological liar with a long history of violence over a well-educated woman who lived in fear,” she said.

In the transcript, Jenna Scott said Marks assaulted her at least three times in the first six months of 2018. She said during the hearing that she was afraid he would kill her.

Marks denied ever hurting Scott and said he only acted in self-defense from attacks she allegedly made on him.

Scott said she also believed that Marks would try to destroy her and that could also mean physical harm, according to the transcript.

Temporary protective order

LePak issued a temporary protective order in July against Marks, who is a convicted felon and has a history of committing violent crimes. That protective order said family violence happened, was committed by Marks and “family violence committed by Marks is likely to occur in the future.”

Marks allegedly violated the protective order three separate times by emailing and contacting Jenna Scott. He still is charged with the violation of a protective order.

Marks does not yet have an attorney for the capital murder charge. Marks remained Thursday in the jail with bonds that totaled $1,766,500.

Scott and Swearingin were last seen in Temple Jan. 3 and reported missing the next day. Their bodies were found Jan. 15 in a rural, wooded area near Clearview, Okla.

Maya Maxwell, Marks’ 26-year-old girlfriend, told Temple Police she was with Marks when he killed Scott and Swearingin in a Killeen residence, an arrest affidavit said. Maxwell accompanied Marks to Oklahoma, and told detectives where the bodies would be found, the affidavit said.

Marks killed Scott and Swearingin on Jan. 3, according to Maxwell’s statement. They were alive when they were taken to Killeen and put into two different rooms.

Swearingin died first, Maxwell reportedly told investigators. Marks walked into the room where he was kept, she heard a struggle and, when Marks came out, Swearingin was dead. The same sequence was carried out with Scott, Maxwell said.

Maxwell’s attorney is Wade Faulkner, a Salado attorney, who had no comment Thursday about the case against his client. Maxwell remained Thursday in the Bell County Jail, charged with tampering with or fabricating evidence, a third-degree felony. Her bond was set at $500,000.