Sharon Carrillo sits with her attorney, Christopher MacLean, in Waldo County Superior Court on Monday, while her husband, Julio Carrillo, waits to be arraigned. Ethan Andrews/Republican Journal

BELFAST — The mother and stepfather accused of beating their 10-year-old daughter to death pleaded not guilty to murder charges Monday.

Marissa Kennedy suffered months of abuse prior to her death in late February in their Stockton Springs home, according to investigative filings in court.

Marissa Kennedy Photo courtesy of Maine Attorney General’s Office

Sharon and Julio Carrillo entered the pleas at their arraignment in Waldo County Superior Court. Afterward, their attorneys hinted that the defense of either Carrillo may hinge on discrediting the other.

The crime shocked and angered people across Maine, and has led to two investigations of the Department of Health and Human Services’ child protective system.

Sharon Carrillo, 33, is scheduled to have a mental examination later this month. Both Carrillos are being held in jail.

Julio Carrillo, 51, was Marissa Kennedy’s stepfather and was reportedly in the process of adopting her. Police at the time said that both Sharon and Julio Carrillo confessed to beating Kennedy over several months prior to her death.


Sharon Carrillo appeared in court with her attorney, Christopher MacLean, who entered the not guilty plea on her behalf.

“It takes her some time to process information and understand what’s happening,” MacLean said after the arraignment. “She’s also a fairly timid and quiet person.”

MacLean has said Sharon Carrillo has an IQ between 70 and 75 and that she was abused by her husband. On Monday, he reiterated that his client has “underlying mental retardation” and is intellectually deficient.

“Whether she has more complicated psychological conditions – we’re exploring that,” he said.

Sharon Carrillo’s defense team has moved to remove state attorneys Leane Zainea and Donald Macomber from the prosecution after they obtained Carrillo’s records from a boarding school she attended in New York state using a subpoena with a court date that had not been set.

MacLean said the subpoena had no authority when used outside of Maine, and along with the fabricated date, was intended to trick the head of the school into mailing Sharon Carrillo’s records, which she did. The state tried to get records from a Newburgh, New York, Walmart where both the Carrillos may have worked but rescinded the subpoena before receiving any records from Walmart, Zainea said at a hearing last week.


Superior Court Justice Robert Murray ruled at that hearing that the records were improperly obtained by the state and barred them from use in the case. He gave the state 48 hours to hand over the records along with a list of state workers and police who had reviewed them.

A motion by Sharon Carrillo’s defense team to dismiss the two state attorneys is still pending. On Monday, MacLean said he wants the entire Maine Attorney General’s Office barred from the case. He said he did not know of a time that this has happened before.

MacLean said his own investigation has revealed that the state routinely uses improper subpoenas to obtain information from sources outside of Maine.

Julio Carrillo entered his own plea of not guilty Monday, answering the judge in a high, cracking voice. Julio Carrillo’s court-appointed attorney has been dismissed and replaced by a private attorney, Darrick Banda.

Speaking outside the courthouse, Banda said the public has been misled by the narrative of domestic violence being espoused by Sharon Carrillo’s defense team and said a clearer picture would emerge soon.

“There’s a lot of interesting and bizarre things that we haven’t learned about this case,” Banda said, adding he is seeking medical information related to Marissa Kennedy and Sharon Carrillo. Banda declined to say whether Julio Carrillo has mental or physical disabilities.

“There’s going to be some surprises in store,” Banda said. “There’s a lot more to this story than what you’ve heard.”

MacLean agreed, to a certain extent. Sharon Carrillo’s defense attorney hinted that he knows more than Banda, saying he has already reviewed 2,000 pages of documentation related to the case.

“There are some surprises,” he said, “but … what they tend to suggest is what I’ve been saying all along, that my client has been the victim of domestic violence in the relationship.”

Comments are not available on this story.