SEARSPORT — Searsport school staff and students are planning to wear blue on Wednesday, March 7, to both raise awareness about child abuse, and in remembrance of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy, who was allegedly beaten to death by her parents over the span of several months.
Blue ribbons have already been hung in parts of Searsport, and Stockton Springs, symbols that the little girl remains at the top of community minds. Other local communities and citizens are being asked to join in, either by wearing royal blue and/or hanging royal blue ribbons in their respective towns.
While Searsport’s dress blue day is scheduled for March 7, the hanging of ribbons has no date attached. The ribbons have been hung from trees, poles, residences, and businesses in the two towns.
Marissa’s mother and stepfather, 33-year-old Sharon Carillo, and 51-year-old Julio Carrillo, were arrested Feb. 26, the day after the girl was found deceased by first responders. She had allegedly been beaten multiple times daily, every day, for months, before succumbing to her injuries Feb. 25, including a lacerated liver and bleeding on the brain.
Vigils for Marissa were held in Belfast and Bangor March 3, with another vigil in Stockton Springs March 4.
It has been widely reported that a number of reports were made to Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services alerting them of suspected abuse towards Marissa.
Anger has been expressed by many Maine residents that Marissa wasn’t removed from the home despite the many complaints made, including from the Searsport School she attended and Bangor neighbors who lived next to the family prior to their relocating to Stockton Springs.
Senator Mike Thibodeau, who said at the Belfast vigil he and his wife had cried at the news of Marissa’s death, has called on Governor Paul LePage to be personally involved in a formal investigation into the case.
As of March 6, neither LePage or the Department of Health and Human Services, has issued an official statement regarding Marissa’s death.
Both Carrillos, who are currently being held in Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, were arraigned in Waldo County Superior Court Feb. 28. Bail for each was set at $500,000 cash bond without the option for a surety bond, which would allow a third party to post part of the bail while guaranteeing the rest.
Sharon Carrillo, who is reportedly seven months pregnant, cried through much of her appearance, though Julio Carrillo expressed no emotion during his time before the judge.
An arraignment is the first step in courtroom proceedings, with the judge setting bail amounts and assigning counsel to the accused should they be unable to afford an attorney on their own. Both Carillos qualified for court-appointed attorneys, with Sharon Carrillo assigned Camden attorney Christopher Maclean, and Julio Carrillo assigned attorney Steven Peterson.
The next court date scheduled in the case is a status conference hearing at 1 p.m., April 30.
A status conference is a pre-trial conference, typically held between a defendant’s lawyer, the prosecutor and the judge assigned to the case, which allows the judge to better manage the case. It is used to set a timeline for the conclusion of all pre-trial activities, including evidence discovery. A tentative trial date is also typically set during the status conference.
Pre-trial status conferences also allow the judge and lawyers to review the evidence gathered and clarify any disputed issues.
An issue conference can also be scheduled, which allows the respective lawyers to come together to see what facts can be agreed upon. Such agreements are called stipulations and can shorten trial times by determining points that don’t need to be proven at a trial.
Both Carrillos will remain in custody indefinitely unless they can come up with the $500,000 cash bail.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org