BELFAST — The mother and stepfather accused of beating the woman’s 10-year-old daughter to death over the course of several months were formally indicted by a Waldo County Grand Jury March 15.
Sharon Carrillo, 33, and Julio Carrillo, 51, both of Stockton Springs, were arrested and charged with depraved indifference murder the day after Marissa died following interviews with Maine State Police detectives.
Marissa Kennedy was found deceased Feb. 25, after deteriorating to the point of being unable to walk or speak without slurring her words. The girl, who according to the parents of classmates had not been in school since October, suffered multiple daily beatings during the months leading up to her death.
During interrogations of Sharon and Julio, both reportedly admitted engaging in the abuse, where Marissa was forced to kneel on kitchen tiles with her arms raised while she was beaten with fists, open hands and a metal mop handle, according to an affidavit from Maine State Police. The cause of death was determined to be battered child syndrome, with injuries including bleeding to the brain and a lacerated liver.
Attorneys for both Sharon Carrillo and Julio Carrillo were also in court March 16, to review an expedited motion for a forensic psychological exam filed by the prosecution for Sharon Carrillo.
Julio Carrillo’s lawyer, Steven Peterson, who works out of Rockport, said he was there mostly as a “fly on the wall” to observe the hearing and learn what decisions were made.
Sharon Carrillo’s lawyer, Chris MacLean, of Camden Law, argued against the order, saying that when the order is made the exam must take place within 45 days, in accordance to Maine State law. MacLean expressed concern that this timeframe would overlap with psychological tests he plans to independently run on his client, something he said could lead to tainted results.
A forensic mental examination is performed by the State Forensic Service, something MacLean said likely has an institutional bias as a government agency. Prosecutor Leane Zainea disputed this claim.
The examination is used to help in evaluating a defendant’s mental state at the time of the crime with reference to criminal responsibility, according to Maine Criminal Court procedure.
While an exam will also likely be ordered for Julio Carrillo, the reason Sharon Carrillo’s examination sooner than his is due to Attorney MacLean discussing his client’s mental status with a number of media outlets.
Zainea told Justice Murray that MacLean has told the press that Sharon has a limited mental capacity and also that he has implied that the statements obtained through interrogation with the Maine State Police were coerced. She also noted that MacLean has already obtained a private psychologist to evaluate Sharon.
The examinations can be requested by both the State and defense for a number of reasons, including determining a defendant’s competency to proceed and determining whether insanity or another abnormal condition of the mind exists.
Zainea also said that statements about Sharon Carrillo’s mental health by her family have indicated that Sharon can be “very manipulative” of other people and circumstances. Though MacLean requested additional details about the family members alleged statements regarding potential manipulation, Justice Murray did not ask the State for additional details.
In addition to a mental examination, the State also requested a neuropsychological examination, which is an assessment of brain function, according to the Department of Neurology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
A neuropsychological evaluation assesses how a participant’s brain works, which reveals information about the structural and functional integrity of the respective brain.
While Justice Murray approved the order for Sharon to undergo a forensic mental examination by the State Forensic Service, he did not order her to undergo a neuropsychological exam at the hearing.
When approached for comment following the hearing, Attorney MacLean said that he wasn’t opposing the psychological examination taking place because there are obviously mental and psychological issues at play, rather that he wanted his team to have a little extra time to get their work with Sharon done first.
“Mostly I want to make sure that we finish our private defense psychological evaluation before the Forensic Service meets without our client to essentially do the same testing. I just think it makes sense to separate the two tests so we can have purer, more consistent results when the two separate rounds of psychological testing take place” MacLean said.
MacLean also reiterated his belief that the statements made by Sharon during police interrogation were coerced.
“We’re concerned that someone who is essentially mentally retarded is someone who is highly susceptible to coercion from the State Police, and I won’t get into the specifics now, but you might be hearing a little bit more about that at the bail hearing, because we certainly believe that some statements that were attributed to Sharon in the interrogation by the State Police were not the product of a free and rational mind,” he said.
Attorney Steven Peterson said that the State has also requested a forensic psychological examination for his client Julio Carrillo, and that he has also objected to the order. He said there was no basis to expedite Julio’s hearing on the matter since unlike MacLean he has not been saying publicly that [mental competency] will be his defense.
Peterson said it’s premature to know what exactly his argument to the court will be, but that “I think it’s fair to say that the defense that we are asserting in its primary sense is that [Julio] didn’t do this and he’s not guilty of what the sensational allegations are that have been made in the case,” he said.
He said that he is aware of multiple incidents of police being called to residences shared by the Carrillo’s in both Bangor and Stockton Springs, but that his information is that “by and large that was Sharon Carrillo, sometimes with Marissa. It did not involve my client,” he said.
Peterson also said he plans to oppose a motion to join the two cases together.
Now that both Sharon and Julio Carrillo have been indicted they will be brought before the court for their arraignment, where they will both enter a plea. Both are expected to plead not guilty, though they could also plead guilty or make an Alford plea, which essentially acknowledges enough evidence exists to likely secure a conviction but does not admit guilt.
Both arraignments are expected to take place in the near future, though they have not yet been scheduled.
Both Sharon and Julio Carrillo face the possibility of life in prison should they be convicted.
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org