AUGUSTA — The Maine Supreme Court, often referred to as the Maine Law Court, has decided to hear the appeal filed by Sharon Carrillo’s lawyer in an effort to have state prosecutors removed from the case.
Sharon Carrillo’s lawyer, Chris MacLean, said that not only had the Maine Law Court agreed to hear the appeal, but they have also scheduled a “special kind of consideration known as an oral argument.”
This type of consideration means that the involved lawyers, including state prosecutors Assistant Attorneys General Donald Macomber and Leane Zainea, have to submit written arguments by May 24, prior to appearing before the Law Court.
The lawyers involved are scheduled to appear before the Law Court, located in Augusta, June 12, at 1:30 p.m., where they will be asked to answer questions in open court.
Sharon Carrillo, 33, is facing a charge of depraved indifference murder, who along with her husband Julio Carrillo, 51, is accused of beating her 10-year-old daughter to death over the course of several months, culminating in her Feb. 25 death. Both Carrillos were arrested the following day and face the same charge. They have remained in Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset since their arrest.
According to police interviews from both Sharon and Julio, Marissa was often beaten multiple times daily, with fists, open hands, and a metal mop pole, which eventually broke on her torso. The abuse continued until she could no longer walk or speak without slurring her words, with Marissa’s official cause of death listed as beaten child syndrome. Her injuries included a lacerated liver and bleeding on the brain.
So far Sharon Carrillo’s case has been more eventful than her husband’s, with MacLean arguing to have prosecutors removed from the case after they procured confidential and privileged information about his client by using extrajudicial subpoenas.
Justice Robert Murray agreed with MacLean that the documents were improperly acquired and required the state to turn over any and all records received from the targeted organizations. This included Maplebrook School, where Sharon once attended, and a Walmart Supercenter where she once worked, both in New York.
AAG Macomber admitted mistakes were made in how the records in question were procured but told Justice Murray he was containing his “rage” at MacLean’s questioning of his character.
Ultimately, Justice Murray did not agree with MacLean’s argument to have AAGs Macomber and Zainea removed from the case, writing in his April 12 order, “this Court is not persuaded that the Attorney General’s conduct in the pending matter rises to that level of behavior which would warrant the rather extraordinary remedy of disqualification. Accordingly, the Defendant’s motion to disqualify is hereby, denied.”
MacLean said at the time he planned to appeal the decision, which was officially filed in Waldo County Unified Court April 23.
While all convicted criminal defendants have an automatic right to appeal their conviction, this appeal is different because Sharon Carrillo has not been convicted of a crime.
“In the middle of the case, a defendant almost never has an opportunity to appeal. We asked for special permission,” MacLean said.
Since such permissions are “almost always denied,” MacLean said, “it is very unusual that the court granted us permission to pursue the appeal at this stage.”
There are several possible outcomes should the Law Court find in Sharon Carrillo’s favor with regard to her appeal, including the disqualification of AAGs Macomber and Zainea. MacLean said the Law Court can also find that the trial court misapplied the law, in which case Justice Murray could be asked to reconsider his ruling, or the decision to keep prosecutors on the case can be upheld.
“We are pleased that the court has agreed to hear our appeal and to hold oral argument,” said MacLean. “We feel that the due process rights of our client have been violated and that the issues are important. For us, we are less concerned about who wins or loses on appeal; we just appreciate the opportunity to be heard. This is what due process of law is all about.”
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org