Sentenced to 48 years in Dec. for depraved indifference murder of daughter

Sharon Kennedy (fka Carrillo) argues to have sentence, conviction vacated

Fri, 11/13/2020 - 7:45pm

    PORTLAND — Lawyers for Sharon Kennedy (formerly Sharon Carrillo) are asking for her sentence or conviction in the Feb. 2018, beating death of her daughter to be vacated. The appeal, which was filed with the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, July 24, followed Kennedy’s December 2019 conviction of the depraved indifference murder to be vacated.  

    Sharon returned to her maiden name after annulling her marriage to Julio Carrillo, who was also charged with murder. 

    Marissa Kennedy, Sharon Kenndy’s daughter, died Feb. 26, 2018, after months of prolonged beatings perpetrated by Kennedy and then-husband Julio Carrillo. Julio Carrillo was sentenced to 55 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of his step-daughter. 

    The trial against Sharon Kennedy (then Carrillo) began Dec. 4, 2019, and ended Dec. 18, after a jury returned a guilty verdict, convicting Sharon of knowing and intentional murder.  On February 21, Sharon was sentenced to 48 years in prison.

    A number of reasons are given as the basis for the appeal, which was written by Laura P. Shaw, Esq., of Camden Law, who along with Christopher K. MacLean, serves as Kennedy’s lawyer. 

    In the appeal, which uses Sharon’s married name, Shaw listed five points as support for the appeal. 

    Shaw first asserts that “the court erred in imposing both the basic and maximum sentence by finding that Sharon was an “active participant” in the abuse of Marissa Kennedy in setting the basic sentence and failing to consider her status as a domestic violence victim as a mitigating factor.” 

    Kennedy’s lawyers Shaw and Chris MacLean argued at her trial that Sharon was also a victim of Julio’s abuse, with former neighbors testifying to hearing screams from the Carrillo apartment when the family lived in Bangor. 

    Shaw further states that “the court erred in finding that Sharon’s statements to law enforcement officers on February 25 and 26, 2018, were voluntary and denying Sharon’s motion to suppress statements because, under the totality of the circumstances, including Sharon’s intellectual limitations, experience as a domestic violence victim, and subtle coercion used by the police, the interrogations violated her right to due process.”

    Duress is another issue named in the appeal, with Shaw writing that “the court erred in failing to instruct the jury on duress as it relates to accomplice liability….Sharon was under significant duress resulting from Julio Carrillo at the time he was causing injuries to Marissa Kennedy.”

    Marissa Kennedy’s cause of death is listed as beaten child syndrome, with injuries including bleeding on the brain and a lacerated liver. Pictures of her bruised and battered body were shown during Sharon’s trial. 

    Among other claims, Shaw also asserts that the court “erred in failing to instruct the jury that a victim of domestic violence cannot be an accomplice to the same course of conduct that led to her abuse.” 

    Maine State Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin filed a response to the appeal Sept. 4, arguing against each assertion made by Shaw. 

    The response begins with a review of everything that has transpired over the course of the case, from the moment police were contacted Feb. 25, 2018, through Dec. 18, 2019, the day a jury returned a guilty verdict to Sharon Carrillo. 

    Included in the review are portions of Sharon’s interview with detectives where she admits to punching Marissa Kennedy in the stomach, standing on her calves, and hitting her with a belt, among other abuses. 

    In her response, AAG Leanne Robbin states that “the court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a final sentence of 48 years for the depraved indifference murder of [Sharon’s] 10-year old daughter. In setting the basic sentence within the range of 25 years to life, the court had broad discretion and abundant evidence to conclude that Carrillo “was an active participant” in the crime.”

    Robbin argues that the court also did not abuse its discretion by concluding that any domestic violence inflicted on Carrillo failed to qualify as a mitigating factor in sentencing, because, “such violence did not cause her to beat her daughter.” 

    Robbin also defended the inclusion of statements made by Sharon during two interviews with Maine State Police detectives, writing that “the court considered Carrillo’s cognitive limitations within the context of the interviews and concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that “her decision to speak with the detectives was the product of her free choice and rational mind…”

    Further into the response, Robbin called Carrillo’s request that the court instruct [the jury] that Carrillo could not be an accomplice as “the victim of that crime” absurd, writing is “undisputed that Carrillo was not the victim of depraved indifference murder.”

    Carrillo’s request for a duress instruction was, “not supported by a scintilla of evidence that there was any threat of imminent death or bodily injury to Carrillo if she did not beat her daughter,” according to the State’s response. 

    Sharon Kennedy’s lawyer, Christopher K. MacLean, filed his response to the State Sept. 24. 

    In response, MacLean argues with the conclusions drawn by the State, including the case examples that were included to show precedent. MacLean took issue with the cases chosen, arguing against their similarity and including his own citations of past cases that reportedly support his and Kennedy’s arguments. 

    MacLean also took issue with the State’s assertion that Sharon was not compelled to beat her daughter due to threat of violence, writing, “Even if the State were correct that no causal link was established, there is no requirement that the mitigating factors considered by the court at sentencing be causally linked to the commission of the crime at hand…. The substantial evidence presented in this case relating to Julio’s abuse of Sharon did demonstrate that Sharon’s actions were affected by the abuse she experienced from Julio.”

    To illustrate his point MacLean pointed to the “multiple witnesses [that] testified about the control that Julio had over Sharon.”

    Several witnesses testified that Sharon often remained silent during interactions, allowing Julio to hold any conversation. 

    MacLean wrote in part that “considering the substantial amount of the disturbing evidence that was presented during the trial concerning Julio’s abuse of Sharon, it is ludicrous that the State continues to downplay the abuse Sharon suffered….”

    It is also asserted that “the record clearly showed that Detective Jason Andrews coerced Sharon into making this false “admission,” and that text messages purporting to be from the stepmother with instructions on what to do with Marissa were located on cell phones found in the Carrillo residence,” as Sharon had claimed during her initial interview with detectives. 

    MacLean’s response concludes with: “For the reasons stated above, the Appellant, Sharon Carrillo, respectfully requests that the sentence and/or the conviction be vacated and that this court order any further relief this court determines to be just.”

    Erica Thoms can be reached at