Deborah Mark is charged with murder and several counts of child abuse in connection to the death of her four-year-old adopted daughter in 2009.
The Marks lived in Mt. Juliet, Wilson County at the time of their daughter's death.
LEBANON, Tenn. -
Testimony got underway Tuesday in the trial of a former Mid-State pediatrician accused of killing her adopted daughter nearly two years ago in Wilson County.
Deborah Mark is charged with first degree murder and several counts of child abuse in connection to the death of her four-year-old daughter Kairissa, who was adopted from China.
Kairissa Mark was unconscious when she was rushed to Summit Medical Center on July 1, 2010. She later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
The child had severe bruising and Mt. Juliet police said in the months following it was one of the worst cases of child abuse they'd seen.
During opening statements Tuesday, prosecutors painted Mark as a mother who often abused her young daughter.
Kairissa was adopted by Mark and her husband Steven three months prior to her death and in that time, prosecutors allege Deborah Mark disciplined the girl by hitting and pinching her, something putting her in a dark room and hitting her on the fingers with a stick.
On the night of June 30, 2010, the night before Kairissa was taken to the hospital, prosecutors allege Mark threw her daughter onto a bed so hard she smashed her head into the drywall.
The little girl passed out and would never wake up again.
"This isn't just one incident, this isn't just one voluntary lapse in judgment, time after time, decision after decision, injury after injury and abuse after abuse, that's what you're going to hear on this tape and then on June 30, 2010, the final act of the abuse," Jason Lawson, assistant district attorney in Wilson County, told jurors about a taped conversation they'd hear between Mark and investigators.
The defense argued Mark loved her daughter despite the child's serious behavioral and medical problems.
Jack Lowery, Mark's attorney, told the courtroom on the night of June 30, 2010 she didn't mean to hurt the little girl and was only trying to help her and get her to eat something.
Defense attorneys also laid the ground work to place blame on Steven Mark, who is also charged with multiple counts of child abuse in the case.
"This is a real tragedy," Lowery said. "Not only is this small child Kairissa a victim in this case, we're going to show you Deborah Mark, the defendant in this case sitting at this table, is also a victim."
Mark's defense testified Steven Mark was the one who spent the most time with the child and the couple's older biological daughter and that he would often throw Kairissa into the air to "scare her."
Also during day one of testimony, jurors heard the two-and-a-half hour conversation between Deborah Mark and investigators while her daughter was hospitalized at Vanderbilt.
Prosecutors said while Mark did not know she was being recorded, she was told the interview was voluntary and she did not have to partake.
In the recording, Mark told detectives she didn't know what could've caused her daughter's injuries.
She said her daughter had behavioral problems so severe she would often hold her breath until she passed out. She claims that is what happened when the little girl was rushed to the hospital last summer.
Prosecutors do not believe that was the case.
Both Deborah and Steven Mark pleaded not guilty to all the counts against them and have remained free on bond since their 2010 arrests.
The Mark's biological daughter has been living with family members.
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