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MJ parents indicted in death of 4-yr.-old adopted daughter

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By TOMI L. WILEYSpecial to The Wilson Post

MT. JULIET -- In what police officials called the first death of a child stemming from child abuse in the city’s history, a Mt. Juliet couple surrendered to authorities Monday after they were indicted on charges of felony murder, child abuse, and “failure to protect.”

Dr. Deborah Mark, 39, and husband Steven Mark, 47, of 441 Laurel Hill Drive in the Autumn Ridge subdivision in Providence, were indicted on multiple charges by the Wilson County grand jury Monday after a 10-day investigation into the death of their adopted daughter, Kairissa Mark, age 4.

Authorities said the child was the victim of “extensive and extended” child abuse.

Mt. Juliet Police Det. Bonnie Harris said at a press conference Monday that police found “substantial bruising head to toe” on Kairissa, describing it as “pretty bad abuse inflicted over time.”

Harris added that the “fatal blow” to the head was allegedly inflicted by the child’s mother.

According to officials, “officers with the MJPD responded to 441 Laurel Hills Drive to assist Wilson County Emergency Management (WEMA) medical personnel with an unresponsive 4 year old female child. Officers quickly arrived on the scene and were met by the father, Steven Mark, who led them to the child. Officers immediately started life saving efforts by initiating CPR using both chest compression and breathing techniques. After WEMA arrived on scene, the child was transported to Summit Hospital to meet a Vanderbilt LifeFlight helicopter for transport to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. On July 2nd, 2010 at 11:48 a.m., the child Kairissa Mark, succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased.”

Since the inception of the incident, the MJPD Criminal Investigative Division investigated the case. Assisting agencies include the District Attorney General’s Office, Wilson County Sheriff’s Department, Lebanon Police Department’s Forensics Unit and the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

Kairissa was adopted from China and arrived in the U.S. in April of this year. The Marks also have an 8-year-old biological daughter, currently in DCS custody.

Investigators confirmed Monday that the biological daughter did not seem to have suffered any physical child abuse but had reportedly witnessed abuse on her sister.

Dr. Deborah Mark is a physician in Lebanon and her husband, Harris said, was a stay-at-home-dad. Harris said the abuse had been inflicted by both “hands and items,” and, according to evidence, since near the time of Kairissa’s arrival in Mt. Juliet.

Harris, who worked with MJPD Det. David Stolinsky on the case, said Monday that this was the worst case of child abuse she’d ever seen and called the case “heart wrenching and difficult.” She said “the most important thing” was solving the case and capturing Kairissa’s killers.

“It gives the little girl justice, and that’s our main goal,” Harris said thickly.

Charges for Dr. Deborah Mark include one count of Felony First Degree Murder, one count Perpetration of Aggravated Child Abuse, one count Aggravated Child Abuse, and four counts Child Abuse. Her bond was set for $150,000.

Charges for Steven Mark include one count Aggravated Child Abuse and Neglect, one count Criminal Responsibility for Aggravated Child Abuse, one count Aggravated Assault by Failure to Protect, four counts Child Abuse and one count Accessory After the Fact. His bond was set at $100,000.

Both parents were released on bond on Monday. A court date has been scheduled for Friday, July 23.

(News of the arrests in this case was reported Monday on

Editor’s Note: Tomi L. Wiley is the editor of The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet. She may be contacted at

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