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Courts and Crime

Carrillo Trial Begins In Waldo County Superior Court

Patty Wight
Maine Public

Opening statements in the trial of Sharon Carrillo were delivered Friday in Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast. Carrillo is the mother charged with depraved indifference murder for the death of her 10-year old daughter, Marissa Kennedy, in February 2018. 

State prosecutors say 35-year old Carrillo confessed to abusing Kennedy on a daily basis and bears responsibility. But Carrillo’s attorneys say it was her husband Julio Carrillo, Kennedy's stepfather, who committed the crime, and that Sharon Carrillo was also a victim of his abuse.

In their opening statements, both state prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed on at least one aspect of this case: that the circumstances under which Marissa Kennedy died were gruesome and horrendous. Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber told jurors that Maine's chief medical examiner determined the 10-year old died of battered child syndrome, after being subjected to months of abuse. Sharon Carrillo cried in the courtroom as Macomber listed some of the 50 known injuries found on Kennedy after she died.

"Who beat Marissa Kennedy to death? Who is responsible for her murder? Her mother, Sharon Carrillo. And her stepfather, Julio Carrillo."

Julio Carrillo, who is 52, pleaded guilty to Kennedy's murder in July and was sentenced to 55 years in prison. Macomber told the jury that just because Julio Carrillo has been convicted doesn't mean that Sharon Carrillo can't also be held accountable. But Julio Carrillo's record of violence will play a key role in Sharon Carrillo's defense, because her attorneys say that she was also a victim of abuse.

"I'll tell you right now that the evidence will show that Julio Carrillo killed Marissa Kennedy and he acted alone in doing that. And that Sharon Carrillo did not participate in any of the beatings or torture of her daughter as the state just described to you."

Defense attorney Chris MacLean told the jury that even though Sharon Carrillo confessed to police in the aftermath of her daughter's death, she was highly susceptible to a false confession due to the abuse she endured and her low IQ, which tests in the bottom two percent of the population. MacLean says there's a reason that the prosecution is dismissive of Sharon Carrillo's claims that she was abused.

"Because it undermines the theory of their case,” says MacLean. “First of all, if Sharon was the victim of extreme domestic violence, it raises a reasonable doubt about the truthfulness of the confession."

But prosecutor Donald Macomber says the question before the jury is not whether Sharon Carrillo experienced domestic violence or whether she was a principal or accomplice in the death of her daughter. The question is whether she is guilty of depraved indifference murder, which Macomber says means she acted in blatant disregard to the value of human life, which caused the death of another.

"Depraved indifference murder has no culpable mental state,” he says. “In other words, the state doesn't have to prove that Sharon Carrillo intended to kill Marissa Kennedy."

Macomber told jurors that the photos they'll see in the trial will speak volumes about the torture Kennedy endured. After opening statements Friday, the jury saw the first of those graphic photos during witness testimony of EMTs and police who first responded to the 911-call from the Stockton Springs condo in which the Carrillos were living. The photos showed the 10-year old's stomach, purple from bruising, as well as a large bruise on her face.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.