Julio Carrillo has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for the death of his stepdaughter Marissa Kennedy.
Carrillo was sentenced in Waldo County Superior Court Wednesday, several weeks after he pleaded guilty to murder in the 10-year-old’s abuse death that prompted an overhaul of Maine’s child welfare system.
The state had asked for a life sentence for Carrillo. During the hearing on Wednesday, an assistant attorney general reminded the court several times of what was described as the savage, brutal abuse of Marissa Kennedy that lasted for months and ultimately caused her death in Feb. 2018 in Stockton Springs.
The attorney for Carrillo, meanwhile, asked for 35-40 years. Several of Carrillo’s family members gave tearful, verbal statements asking for mercy, saying Carrillo was a good son, brother and man who made a mistake after he became overwhelmed financially and as a new father. Carrillo himself also spoke, repeatedly apologizing to Kennedy through tears.
When Justice Robert Murray addressed the court, he said that the evidence in the case supported a life sentence. But he said he also had to consider several mitigating factors: the fact that Carrillo, who is now 52, has no previous criminal history; that he accepts responsibility for Kennedy’s murder And that he has strong family support.
Taking those factors into account, Murray sentenced Carrillo to 55 years in prison and ordered him to pay $6,100 in restitution to the state’s Victims’ Compensation Board.
Outside the courthouse, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said she’s satisfied with the outcome.
“Although we asked for a life sentence, what was imposed here today by the court in all actuality is a life sentence given the fact that the defendant is now 52 years old. Mr. Carrillo, in all likelihood, will never be getting out of prison again,” she said.
Carrillo’s attorney Darrick Banda also said he’s pleased with the sentence. Even though it’s longer than what he requested, Banda sounded doubtful that his client would appeal.
“We’re only about 10 years off in our recommendation from where the court ultimately ended up. So to go back and quibble about 5-10 years when you’re talking about so much time, you have to sort of weigh that into consideration,” he said.
Banda was flanked by Carrillo’s family outside the courthouse, who asked for privacy. But Tania Molina, Carrillo’s sister, offered a brief statement to reporters.
“No one leaves here a winner today. We still lost Marissa. Marissa’s not going to come back to life. My brother’s not going to go home for many, many years. And the real losers here are his children. His three children. The ones we take care of on a daily basis,” she said.
Two children — a baby and a toddler — were living in the Stockton Springs home when Kennedy was found dead but were apparently unharmed. Kennedy’s mother, Sharon Carrillo, was also pregnant at the time with a third child fathered by Julio, and has since given birth. She faces murder charges and is expected to go on trial in December.
Originally published Aug. 28, 2019 at 12:55 p.m. ET.