A husband and wife accused of beating a 10-year-old girl to death in Stockton Springs pleaded not guilty to depraved indifference murder Monday in a Belfast courtroom.
Sharon and Julio Carrillo are charged in the death of Sharon’s daughter, Marissa Kennedy. Prosecutors say the Carrillos beat Marissa on a nearly daily basis for months, using a belt, their fists and a mop handle, until she died from her injuries in late February.
The Carrillos then allegedly staged a scene in the basement to make it appear as if Marissa had fallen while playing.
[What we know about the life of the Maine child allegedly killed by her parents]
Defense attorneys representing the Carrillos have questioned the details laid out by prosecutors, but have declined to get into specifics. Both defense teams have claimed that the couple’s apparent mental health and intellectual deficiencies could have played a role in not only the alleged crime, but also what they allegedly told police afterward during lengthy interviews.
“I think you guys are going to be in for some surprises,” Darrick X. Banda, Julio Carrillo’s new attorney, told the media following a brief arraignment at Waldo County Superior Court. He declined to get into any detail, but said “interesting and bizarre” facts would come out as the case proceeds.
“There’s a lot more to this story than what you’ve heard to this point,” Banda added.
Sharon Carrillo’s attorney, Chris MacLean, has said his client was the victim of mental and physical abuse at the hands of her husband. She’s scheduled to undergo a mental health evaluation at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta on April 20.
[Judge rules Maine prosecutors improperly acquired info in Marissa Kennedy case]
The next major development in the Carrillo case will come when Superior Court Justice Robert Murray decides whether to disqualify the attorney general’s office, or certain prosecutors.
MacLean made a motion to remove prosecutors from the case last month after investigators gathering evidence sent subpoenas to an out-of-state school and former employer without proper court approvals. Murray ordered documents sent in response to those subpoenas handed over or destroyed, but the court has yet to set a hearing on the potential disqualification.
Prosecutors have admitted that they made a “procedural error,” but declined to comment further Monday.
MacLean argued that the state violated his client’s due process rights. He said he’s not aware of any other cases in which the entire AG’s office has been disqualified, though district attorneys offices or individual prosecutors have been removed from cases in the past.
It could be up to a year before the Carrillos stand trial.
The charge they face, depraved indifference murder, differs from a standard murder charge in that a judge will tell jurors at the conclusion of the trial that they should decide if the defendant should be convicted of murder or criminally negligent manslaughter, a lesser Class A crime. People charged with depraved indifference murder are also eligible for bail, unlike those charged with murder.
If convicted of murder, the Carrillos face 25 years to life in prison. If convicted of criminally negligent manslaughter, they face up to 30 years.
Not long after she was arrested, Julio Carrillo’s former attorney announced that Sharon is pregnant. She’s likely due to deliver a baby in little more than a month.
[Mother charged in 10-year-old’s abuse, murder likely to give birth in jail]
Both Carrillos are being held at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, with bail set at $500,000 cash, an amount neither is expected to be able to produce.
Sharon Carrillo’s attorney has said he expects to request a reduced bail amount in the future.
To locate your local Domestic Violence Resource Center, call the statewide helpline at 866-834-HELP (4357) or visit www.mcedv.org. For resources or support to prevent child abuse, call 800-422-4453.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.