Friday Aug 22 2008
Couple sentenced to four years formal probation
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Father’s immigration status unknown
An Auburn couple arrested for reportedly not feeding and properly carrying for their infant daughter were sentenced to formal probation Friday morning. Abraham, 49, and Monica Mark, 38, were both ordered to four years formal probation and separate jail sentences in Placer County Jail. Monica Mark pleaded no contest to felony cruelty to a child by abuse and neglect. Abraham Mark pleaded no contest to being an accessory to child abuse and neglect, a felony. A special allegation of great bodily injury to child younger than 5 was dismissed in light of the pleas, according to prosecutor Joe McInerney. Both were charged with one felony count of cruelty to a child. In addition to her four years formal probation, Monica Mark was sentenced to 300 days in Placer County Jail for which she has 297 credits. For a separate violation of probation, she was sentenced an additional 40 days in county jail but has 12 credits toward that sentence. Both Monica and Abraham Mark are only allowed supervised visitation pending the approval of Child Protective Services to see their daughter, Shelia. Shelia was 8-weeks-old when she was taken to the hospital and reportedly “hours from death,” according to prosecutor Joe McInerney. Judge Frances Kearney also signed a restraining order protecting Shelia from Monica and Abraham Mark. In January, Placer County Child Protective Services determined the baby was dehydrated and severely malnourished when she was taken to an area hospital. Monica Mark has two other children and is only allowed to see them in a supervised visit. She was also ordered to enroll in a parenting class and get assistance for her mental health issues. Abraham Mark was instructed as well to enroll in a 52-week parenting class. Abraham Mark was sentenced to 309 days in Placer County Jail for which he has 309 credits. However, Abraham Mark has a federal immigration hold and his status in the United States remains in question. Defense attorney Dean Starks requested that Abraham Mark’s charge be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor so he would stand a better chance of remaining in the country. Starks also argued that Abraham Mark was working two jobs trying to support his family while Monica Mark remained at home. It wasn’t until his urging that the prematurely born baby was taken to the hospital. McInerney requested that the felony charge remain given the seriousness of the incident. “I agree with the district attorney that this was a very serious situation and that the child was hours from death,” Kearney said. “Although there may have been underlying problems … it was neglect and neglect that could’ve had tragic consequences.” Both sides acknowledged that Shelia may have other medical issues that could’ve contributed to her emaciated state at the time she was taken to the hospital. Both sides also agreed, however, that neglect in care did not help the situation. In Monica Mark’s case, McInerney stated he did not feel she was remorseful because of what appeared to be excuses she gave for her child’s condition. “It’s rather inexplicable and impossible to understand how a parent allows a child to get to that state,” McInerney said. Monica Mark was represented by a public defender, who said the mother made multiple efforts to get the child care through doctor’s visits but could not get an appointment. He also said his defendant is taking responsibility for her actions. Kearney agreed. “My reading is Mrs. Mark is very remorseful,” Kearney said. She acknowledged that Shelia has developmental delays but it was unclear as to the nature of those delays. “It’s obvious at this point that Shelia is a high-maintenance child that requires a lot of care,” Kearney said. “Thank God she is doing good at this point.” Abraham and Monica Mark will appear again before Kearney for a review at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 5 in Dept. 31. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment.