This article originally appeared at KYUK.org and is republished here with permission.
BETHEL — Jordan Mark, 20, of Quinhagak pleaded guilty Tuesday to the 2020 murder of 10-year-old Ida “Girlie” Aguchak. His admission of guilt was part of a plea deal with prosecutors, who in turn reduced his minimum sentence.
In an emotional scene at the Bethel Courthouse, Ida’s father held her mother as she cried. The parents of the deceased child had just heard their daughter’s killer plead guilty in court. A Superior Court judge in Fairbanks, Michael MacDonald, read the charges over the phone.
“It’s alleged that on or about March 15, 2020 you committed the offense of murder in the first degree at or near Quinhagak, intentionally causing the death of another. What is your plea to that charge, Mr. Mark?” said MacDonald.
“Pleading guilty, your honor,” answered Mark.
Mark had also been charged with raping the 10-year-old victim, but the rape charges were dropped as part of a plea deal with the prosecution. As a part of the deal, he admitted all of the rape allegations.
Mark signed an admission of fact saying that he kidnapped, raped and killed Ida when he was 18, and tried to cover up the evidence.
Mark, his attorney and the judge called into the hearing. Prosecutors, members of the public and Ida’s parents were present in court. Ida’s father, Luther Aguchak, said the year and a half since his daughter’s death have been hard.
“There’s a lot of mourning. A lot of emptiness every morning,” said Aguchak.
But today, hearing Mark’s voice, Aguchak felt inflamed.
“Just full of anger that I got in me. And I sure hope he gets his 99 years because that’s just a baby that we just lost,” said Aguchak.
Ida’s mother and Aguchak’s girlfriend, Betty Williams, wore bright red beaded earrings in the shape of a red dress to the hearing. Red dresses can symbolize missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and Williams said she was wearing them in honor of her daughter. She said that hearing Mark plead guilty will help her start to move on from her loss.
“It made it more real, because some days I think I’d wake up from this and my baby, we’d still have her. It was another rock to step on towards healing,” said Williams.
Next and last on the court’s agenda for the case is sentencing, which is set for June 13. Mark faces 30 to 99 years in prison, which is a reduction from the minimum time of 36.5 years he faced prior to pleading guilty.
A previous version of this story incorrectly said Jordan Mark was 19 when he assaulted and killed Ida Aguchak. He was 18 at the time of the crime.