BELFAST — Prosecutors in the case of the State against Sharon Carrillo and Julio Carrillo are requesting the two to be tried together, albeit with separate juries, for the depraved indifference murder of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy.
In a Revised Notice of Joinder received by Waldo County Superior Court Oct. 9, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea gave notice to the Court that she and fellow case prosecutor Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber that the State has joined for trial Sharon Carrillo and Julio Carrillo.
In the revised notice, Zainea states that the reason for joining the cases is that: “the State maintains that the evidence shows that Sharon Carrillo and Julio Carrillo participated in the same act or transaction or the same series of acts or transactions constituting the offense of Depraved Indifference Murder…. Specifically, the State alleges that the defendants together and separately, repeatedly hit Marissa Kennedy with their hands, and a belt over a period of months, culminating in her death on Feb. 25, 2018.”
Marissa was found deceased by first responders to the scene of the Stockton Springs Condo the family shared prior to her death. Both Sharon and Julio Carrillo participated in interviews with law enforcement where both reportedly admitted beating the child in the months leading up to her death. Both were arrested Feb. 26, and have remained in Two Bridges Regional Jail since.
According to court documents, in the recorded interviews both Sharon and Julio Carrillo incriminate themselves and each other in Marissa’s death. The interviews, which include detailed descriptions of the acts perpetrated, will be introduced at trial, according to Zainea.
Zainea noted that in order to avoid any Bruton issues, the State hereby seeks relief from prejudicial joinder by holding simultaneous trials pursuant to Maine Rules of Unified Criminal Procedure, which states in part: “If it appears that a defendant or the State is prejudiced by joinder of offenses against a single defendant or by the joinder of defendants, the court may order an election or separate trials of counts, grant severance of defendants, or provide whatever relief justice requires, including ordering multiple simultaneous trials.”
Bruton “issues” refers to Bruton v. United States, a 1968 United States Supreme Court rule and states that “a defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights are violated when a non-testifying co-defendant's confession naming the defendant as a participant in the crime is introduced at their joint trial, even if the jury is instructed to consider the confession only against the defendant,” according to the University of North Carolina School of Government.
The Confrontation Clause is a part of the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and stipulates that, “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” The only place the rule can be applied is during criminal prosecutions.
In support of the State’s request, a State of Maine Memorandum In Support of Simultaneous Trials was submitted by Zainea the same day.
In the Memorandum Zainea wrote that the State reserves the right to use the defendant’s statements at trial, and that “accordingly, a trial involving a single jury is not appropriate because of the Bruton issues. The matter before this court is whether the cases should be severed or if one trial with two juries is appropriate.”
State prosecutors are asking that the cases be tried simultaneously with separate juries for each defendant.
In their argument, prosecutors wrote, “generally, severance is ‘disfavored’ because joint trials ‘promote efficiency’ and help avoid inconsistent verdicts…. Consequently, severance is only required when there is a ‘substantial prejudice to the rights of the defendant to a fair trial.’”
According to the document, it is the burden of the party moving for severance to show facts prior to trial that a joint trial would result in prejudice. Prosecutors wrote that arguing the case in front of two separate juries “eliminates the confrontation issues inherent in Bruton and permits the juries to hear common evidence while considering each defendant’s statement separately.”
A number of different established court cases were named in support of this assertion, noting that “Maine has consistently upheld the use of multiple juries in cases that present potential Bruton issues.
The State also argues that the use of two juries would not have a negative impact on either of the defendants in the case. They concluded their argument by stating that “Given that Bruton issues are present in this case because the State has elected to use the defendants’ statements, it is appropriate, for the Court to consider proceeding with a joint trial using a separate jury for each defendant.”
Following an Oct. 1 status conference where counsel for all parties were present, Justice Robert Murray ordered a timeline for the case, including multiple significant dates. Jury selection for the trial is scheduled to take place beginning Aug. 8, 2019, while the trial itself is scheduled to begin Aug. 12, 2019, with an expected conclusion date of Aug. 28, or before.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org