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MARK TRIAL -- Prosecution rests

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The Wilson Post
The prosecution rested its case in the murder trial against Dr. Deborah Mark Thursday, Dec. 1, after calling two expert medical witnesses testifying to the cause of death and nature of 4-year-old Kairissa Marks injuries.

The states final witness, Dr. Tom Deering of the State Medical Examiners Office, performed the autopsy on Kairissa in July 2010. Deering said the cause of death were multiple injuries.

The best cause is acute and chronic blunt force injuries, Deering told Assistant District Attorney General Tom Swink.

Mark, a Mt. Juliet resident, faces first degree murder charges for allegedly killing Kairissa, who she and her husband Steven, adopted from China in April 2010. Kairissa died on July 1, 2010.

Deering classified the manner of Kairissas death as a homicide and said the circumstances suggested she was assaulted by other or others and also suggested child abuse.

During the autopsy, Deering said Kairissa did not suffer from brittle bone disease or osteogenesis imperfecta, and said her growth plates were orderly and normal.

He also said the trauma to Kairissas head was caused by moderate to severe force when she was allegedly flung onto a mattress on the floor and her head struck a wall. Deering said because a childs head is more flexible than an adults, the impact would not have been absorbed by the bone and caused bleeding and swelling of the brain.

Deering testified the child would not be normal after suffering a blow to the head of this kind and said she would have shown signs of neurological damage.

Defense attorney Jack Lowery Sr. asked Deering if the child could have been exhibiting neurological symptoms from a previous incident and Mark mistook those symptoms for Kairissa deliberately holding her breath, as Mark claimed the child was prone to do.

Lowery said Mark could have mistaken the neurological damage as Kairissa holding her breath deliberately and she flung her onto the mattress.

However Swink asked Deering, Would the proper treatment be flinging the child against the wall? to which Deering replied, no.

Earlier in the day, a Vanderbilt University Medical Center pediatric doctor, Dr. Paul Hain, testified that Kairissa was already comatose upon her arrival at Vanderbilt. He said she suffered 13 fractures, including nine rib fractures ranging from two months to less than two weeks old.

Hain said the child was tortured for several months before she was killed.

The state rested its case at about 3:15 p.m., Thursday, and co-defense attorney Jack Lowery Jr. asked Judge David Durham for an acquittal on the first degree murder charge and aggravated child abuse charge.

Swink told Durham the state does not have to prove intent to murder, but rather the intent to aggravated child abuse. It was (Marks) intent to engage in the conduct and that is aggravated child abuse, Swink said, pointing out that abuse lead to Kairissas death.

Durham pointed to two expert medical witnesses that testified Kairissas injuries and death were not accidents as adequate evidence to overrule the acquittal judgment request. He also pointed to previous statements given by Mark who said this was not an accident as sufficient evidence to overrule the requests for acquittal.

The defense began calling its first witness Thursday afternoon and at that time was undecided whether Mark would take the stand in her own defense.

Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at

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