The man accused of killing 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy will plead guilty to murder July 22, according to the clerk’s office at the Waldo County Judicial Center in Belfast. An assistant attorney general said Monday that prosecutors plan to push for a life sentence.
Julio Carrillo, 52, and his wife Sharon Carrillo, 34, are both charged with murder in the death of Sharon Carrillo’s 10-year-old daughter and Julio Carrillo’s stepdaughter in February 2018 in their Stockton Springs home.
The child allegedly suffered months of physical abuse leading up to her death. Since the state’s Department of Health and Human Services had received multiple reports alleging that the 10-year-old was being abused, Marissa Kennedy’s death focused intense scrutiny on Maine’s child welfare system.
Under scrutiny, the department scrambled to change a range of practices regarding its handling of abuse cases and it reopened six months’ worth of seemingly lower-severity cases. State legislators launched an external review of the state agency’s handling of the case of Marissa Kennedy and 4-year-old Kendall Chick, who had been murdered by her grandfather’s fiancee months earlier after DHHS placed her with her grandfather.
Both Julio and Sharon Carrillo have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, who with Leane Zainea is prosecuting the case, said prosecutors will seek a life sentence for Julio Carrillo.
He is expected to plead guilty to depraved indifference murder, Macomber said. There is no plea agreement in the case.
A sentencing date will be set after Carrillo enters his guilty plea.
Julio Carrillo’s jury trial was scheduled to be held in August.
After Superior Court Justice Robert Murray agreed the couple could be tried separately, he set Sharon Carrillo’s trial for December. Her attorneys have claimed that she was physically and mentally abused at the hands of Julio Carrillo.
According to court 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.
A call to Julio Carrillo’s attorney, Darrick X. Banda of Augusta, was not immediately returned Monday.
Both Carrillos face 25 years to life in prison on a murder conviction. Under Maine law, a judge may sentence a murderer to life if the death involved torture.
In a separate proceeding, Sharon Carrillo has filed for an annulment from her husband. That motion is pending in Belfast District Court.
In May 2018, Sharon Carrillo gave birth to a son while she was in custody at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset. 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, Banda said earlier this year.
Laura Shaw, part of Sharon Carrillo’s defense team, said Monday afternoon that she had just learned about Julio Carrillo’s planned guilty plea.
“I think Sharon would probably support a life sentence for Julio as well,” she said.
Shaw said that Julio Carrillo’s decision to plead guilty was not a surprise.
“His decision validates what Sharon has been saying all along, which is that Julio is responsible for the death of Marissa, and not Sharon Carrillo,” the lawyer said. “After almost a year-and-a-half of waiting, I believe Sharon and her family will be relieved to hear that Julio has finally decided to admit guilt and take responsibility for his actions.”
BDN writer Abigail Curtis contributed to this report.