Father pleads guilty to abuse

Date: 2012-09-18

Wife gets life in jail in daughter's death
The man whose wife was convicted of murdering their 4-year-old adopted daughter in Mt. Juliet has pleaded guilty to abuse charges.

Steven Joshua Mark, 49, could spend up to 32 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to four charges, said Tom Swink, assistant district attorney.

Last December, Deborah Wen-Kee Mark received life in prison for the death of Kairissa Mark, who was adopted from China and brought home in April 2010. Kairissa Mark died July 2, 2010, after she had been discovered unresponsive the day before.

Prosecutors said Deborah Mark, a former pediatrician, tossed the girl into a wall and left her unresponsive and bleeding on a mattress at their home on Laurel Hills Drive in Mt. Juliet.

Doctors also found 13 broken bones, missing teeth and scars and bruises on Kairissa Mark’s nipples and inner thighs from an ongoing pattern of abuse, according to prosecutors. Deborah Mark had made statements to detectives she was frustrated by the child’s behavior. Kairissa Mark weighed just 21 pounds, according to testimony.

Steven Mark pleaded guilty to two counts of facilitation of aggravated child abuse, one count of aggravated assault by failure to protect and one count of child abuse of a child under 8 years old.

“Steven Mark’s plea represents his role in the facilitation of child abuse and failure to protect the Marks’ adopted daughter …” Swink said in an email.

Deborah Mark received a life sentence plus 80 years after she was convicted on first-degree murder and multiple abuse charges.

Steven Mark will be eligible for parole after he serves 30 percent of his sentence, which is just over 10 years.

“If anyone sat down and talked to the Marks, you would have been shocked that this could happen,’’ said attorney Alan Poindexter who represented Steven Mark. “Those folks didn’t fit any stereotype whatsoever. She was guilty of a crime of commission and he was guilty of the crime of omission. The evidence was compelling, but not what you expected if you sat down with them.’’

Steven Mark initially had eight charges including four counts of child abuse, one count of aggravated child abuse, criminal responsibility for aggravated child abuse and accessory after the fact.

The child was unresponsive when the couple checked on the child June 30, 2010, after being put to bed, prosecutors said.

Steven Mark told detectives that he didn’t seek help during that time because he was scared of what would happen to their family, according to the prosecution’s evidence.

During interviews with police, Steven Mark admitted he and his wife pried open the young girl’s mouth with an object and knocked two teeth out. Mark also told detectives at some point he placed a heating pad on the child’s thighs as a form of punishment for not eating, which left marks.

The case was investigated by the Mt. Juliet Police Department and Det. Bonnie Harris, with assistance from the Lebanon Police Department and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

“This case certainly was a tragedy and impacted everyone at our police department and in our community,’’ said Mt. Juliet Police Chief Andy Garrett. “Kairissa Mark is someone who we will never forget.”

The Marks have another child who is living with family out of state after the couple relinquished custody soon after charges were filed, Poindexter said.

“This case has been a tragedy and a shame for all involved,’’ Poindexter said.

Contact Andy Humbles at 615-726-5939 or ahumbles@tennessean.com

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