Sharon Carrillo looks at her husband Julio Carrillo as she enters the Waldo Judicial Center on Thursday morning for a hearing to have the couple tried separately in the murder of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy, Sharon's daughter. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

BELFAST, Maine ― Sharon and Julio Carrillo, the Stockton Springs couple accused of killing Marissa Kennedy last year, sat one in front of the other in a Belfast courtroom Thursday morning as Sharon’s attorney accused Julio of abusing his wife and stepdaughter.

Sharon Carrillo, 34, and Julio Carrillo, 52, are both charged with murder following Marissa’s death last February. Marissa was Sharon Carrillo’s 10-year-old daughter and Julio Carrillo’s stepdaughter. The child allegedly suffered months of physical abuse leading up to her death. The couple pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

Thursday’s court hearing was on a motion filed by Sharon Carrillo’s attorneys to have the couple tried separately, instead of having a joint trial with two juries as the state has requested. Justice Robert Murray will decide whether the two defendants will be tried together, though it was not immediately clear Thursday when he would issue his ruling.

Murray heard oral arguments from the defense teams and the prosecution on the motion to sever the trials Thursday. Sharon Carrillo’s attorney, Laura Shaw, said they would be presenting 30 to 35 witnesses at the trial ― including medical professionals and Maine Department of Health and Human Services case workers ― who will testify that Sharon Carrillo suffered from domestic abuse.

In court documents filed in support of that motion, her attorneys Christopher MacLean and Shaw allege that their client suffered from physical and mental abuse at the hands of Julio Carrillo.

[More than 20 Maine children have died since 2017 amid concerns about their safety]

According to the documents, “Julio Carrillo would physically force [Sharon and Marissa] to strip naked and kneel together on the floor of their home. He would force them to hold their arms in the air and threaten to beat them with his hands and other objects if they lowered their arms,” which caused “excruciating” pain.

The court document goes on to describe that Julio sexually assaulted the woman and child. A cellphone photo, allegedly recovered by police, illustrates this scene, the filing states. Marissa appears to be 10 years old in the photo and her mother is visibly pregnant, according to the court filing.

“Standing trial next to the man who tortures her for years would hinder her right” to participate in a fair trial, Shaw argued.

Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

But the state discounts the claims of abuse being made by Sharon Carrillo. Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said during their investigation they found no evidence to show that Julio Carrillo was abusive toward his wife. Zainea said that Sharon Carrillo told investigators herself that her husband did not abuse her.

The prosecution has not seen the evidence of alleged abuse being cited by Sharon Carrillo’s attorneys, Zainea said.

Julio Carrillo’s attorney, Darrick X. Banda, said he has taken no formal stance on whether his client would prefer to be tried with Sharon Carrillo or in a separate trial.

[Grandfather said he saw repeated bruises and cuts on 4-year-old who died in his home]

Given that the expected testimony mentioned by Shaw would likely not be admissible in Julio Carrillo’s trial, if the couple were to have a joint trial with two juries, the jury tasked with deciding Julio Carrillo’s verdict would have to frequently leave the courtroom, Banda said.

“My jury might be sitting around waiting,” Banda said.

Aside from the resources having only one trial would save, Zainea also brought up the issues that having two separate trials would create for jury selection. She said finding unbiased jurors for whichever trial was scheduled last would be difficult because of the publicity of the first trial.

“It will be difficult to get a jury for just one” trial in this case, Zainea said.

Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

As for the allegations against his client, Banda told reporters after the hearing, “This wasn’t my show. This was Sharon Carrillo’s show today. You guys will just have to wait to see what we have coming.”

Outside of the criminal case, Sharon Carrillo is seeking that her marriage to Julio Carrillo be annulled. Shaw said Thursday that the annulment is still pending.

The couple has been held at the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset since their arrest.

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Last May, Sharon Carrillo gave birth to a son while she was in custody at Two Bridges Regional Jail. The boy was the couple’s third child together. Their two sons — Luis and Emmie — were ages 1 and 2 when the Carrillos were arrested. Julio’s parents, Julio Carrillo Sr. and Carmen Carrillo, have received court approval to become foster parents for all three children, including newborn Nicholas, said Julio Carrillo’s lawyer, Darrick X. Banda of Augusta.

Another hearing in the Carrillo case is scheduled for May 2 on motions filed by Sharon Carrillo’s attorneys to suppress statements she made to police in the days after Marissa Kennedy’s death.