Family friends of a former Mid-State pediatrician accused of killing her adopted daughter nearly two years ago in Wilson County testified in court on Wednesday they were “taken aback” by bruising on the four-year-old girl in the weeks leading up to her death.
At least two friends of Deborah Mark testified they became concerned after noticing bruises on Kairissa Mark.
From the stand, Rebecca Allen said the young child seemed happy at first, though as the weeks went on, she began noticing that Kairissa had bruises on her arm.
She testified she was in the process of determining how to approach the family to see if they needed help and how Deborah disciplined the child.
“I was worried that Kairissa should not go home with the Marks and I needed to tell somebody to make sure that she was safe,” Allen said.
She added that before she could tell someone about her concerns she had learned the child had died.
Another friend noted the little girl had bruises on her face when she saw her at a local karate studio.
“The first time I got concerned about Kairissa, we came in from my children's karate lessons and Kairissa was already sitting and she turned to face me and I was taken aback by the bruising I saw on her face,” Christine Kowal said.
Kowal told jurors she also planned to contact the state Department of Children's Services about Kairissa's injuries but wanted to wait until after returning from vacation.
When she did, however, it was too late.
Kairissa was adopted from China by Mark and her husband Steven just three months before her death on July 1, 2010.
One night earlier, Deborah Mark allegedly threw her daughter onto a bed so hard she smashed her head into the drywall and passed out.
She was unconscious when she was rushed to the hospital the following morning.
In court on Wednesday, a piece of drywall from Kairissa's room was introduced as evidence to jurors, in addition to a mattress from the girl's room and a t-shirt stained with blood.
In testimony Tuesday, the defense told jurors Mark loved her daughter despite the child's serious behavioral and medical problems.
Attorney Jack Lowery told the courtroom on the night of June 30, 2010 Mark didn't mean to hurt the little girl and was only trying to help her.
He also laid the ground work to place blame on Steven Mark, who is also charged with multiple counts of child abuse in the case.
On Wednesday, Lowery said Steven Mark called their adoption agency one day before Kairissa died to complain about her behavior, even calling her a “devil child.”
Both Deborah and Steven Mark pleaded not guilty to all the counts against them and have remained free on bond since their arrests in 2010.
- Nov. 29, 2011: Trial underway for mom charged in daughter's death
- Dec. 7, 2010: Pediatrician, husband face May trial date for daughter's death
- July 29, 2010: Doctor, husband plead not guilty in daughter's death
- July 20, 2010: Pediatrician's license suspended following daughter's death
- July 12, 2010: Doctor, husband charged after daughter, 4, dies
- July 5, 2010: Girl, 4, in child abuse case dies from injuries
- July 1, 2010: Mt. Juliet girl, 4, in critical condition, police suspect abuse