Trial underway in child murder case that exposed state gaps
BELFAST, Maine (AP) — A judge on Wednesday declared a woman competent to stand trial in the death of her 10-year-old daughter in a case that exposed failures in Maine’s child protection system.
After the decision, jury selection began in Belfast in the trial of Marissa Kennedy's mother, Sharon Carrillo, 34, who is charged with depraved indifference murder. The girl's stepfather, Julio Carrillo, was sentenced to 55 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder in the same case.
Sharon Carrillo contends both she and her daughter were victims of abuse at the hands of Julio Carrillo. But prosecutors say she is just as guilty as her estranged husband in the girl's death.
Marissa was found beaten to death at a home in February 2018 in Stockton Springs after being beaten for months; police said the Carrillos staged the scene to make it look like an accidental death.
The state medical examiner's office concluded the girl was victim of battered child syndrome and listed injuries, including bleeding in the brain, a lacerated liver and "multiple old injuries." A state police affidavit indicated both Carrillos admitted to participating in the abuse.
Before the trial began, Sharon Carrillo's attorney sought to have her declared incompetent. The attorney questioned her ability to assist in her own defense.
But the judge ruled Sharon competent enough to stand trial.
The deaths of Marissa and another girl, 4-year-old Kendall Chick, led to increased scrutiny of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. In both cases, warning signs of abuse and neglect appeared to have been missed or ignored.