Sharon and Julio Carrillo of Stockton Springs are ordered held on $500,000 bail each in the death of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy, whose treatment is described by a prosecutor as ‘torture.’
A judge set bail at $500,000 each for a mother and stepfather accused of brutally murdering a 10-year-old girl in Stockton Springs.
The couple appeared in Waldo County Superior Court on Wednesday afternoon as Maine State Police continue to investigate what they say was a case of prolonged and severe abuse.
Meanwhile, neighbors who lived near the family in Bangor in 2016 and 2017 said they heard fighting and yelling, and that police officers and state health and human services staff were called to the home repeatedly. The family moved last fall from Bangor to Stockton Springs.
Ten-year-old Marissa Kennedy died on Sunday after months of daily beatings by her mother, Sharon Carrillo, 33, and Julio Carrillo, 51, the girl’s stepfather, according to a police affidavit filed in Belfast District Court on Monday.
The Carrillos each face one count of depraved indifference murder.
In court Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber said this ranks among the most serious cases of depraved indifference murder he has encountered.
“What she was subjected to can only be described as torture,” Macomber said during the brief hearing held in Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast. “Multiple times a day, every day for months.”
Macomber said that, if convicted, the couple could face life sentences in prison. He asked that a mental examination of Sharon Carrillo be conducted in the event that the defense later raises the question of her state of mind. Justice Robert Murray, who set bail, said that motion and any others could be heard at the pair’s next court hearing April 30.
Neither defendant spoke other than to say they understood their rights. Sharon Carrillo wept during her hearing.
It is still not clear how the couple were able to carry out the prolonged abuse without intervention from police, school officials or state protective services agents.
“Someone dropped the ball here,” said Dan Whitney, 68, a former neighbor in Bangor. “That little girl shouldn’t be dead right now. The thing of it is, you’re encouraged to call when something bad is happening but it’s really discouraging when you do call and nothing happens.”
Whitney said he saw police go to the apartment of Julio and Sharon Carrillo on Main Street in Bangor at least half a dozen times. Neighbors could hear Julio berating and beating his wife, Whitney said, but he did not see anyone arrested.
Whitney said the building’s regular cleaner called the Department of Health and Human Services because she was concerned about abuse. Whitney, who said his wife was among those who called police, said he once let a Bangor truancy officer into the building. He was headed for unit 3, the Carrillos’ apartment.
A spokeswoman for DHHS has refused to say whether child protective services had contact with the family, citing confidentiality laws that protect such information from public disclosure.
The family moved to Stockton Springs last summer and later enrolled Kennedy in Regional School Unit 20, which serves Searsport and Stockton Springs. In cases of extended absences, schools typically make contact with families and alert the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
Searsport High School Principal Marianne Deraps said Wednesday the district could not comment on the girl’s case because of privacy laws. Grief counselors had been sent to the Searsport Elementary School, Deraps said.
“This news has been heartwrenching for our community, staff and students,” RSU 20 said in a statement.
The Waldo County Sheriff’s Office said it sent a deputy to the condo about a month before Kennedy’s death but did not find evidence of abuse.
A police dispatcher received a 911 hangup call from the home at 12:40 a.m. on Jan. 24, and the deputy went to the residence and knocked on the door to see if there was an emergency. Julio Carrillo answered the door and told the deputy he was trying to call his mother-in-law and misdialed. The deputy determined there was no emergency, according to the sheriff’s office.
A man who lived near the family in Stockton Springs said the news has horrified neighbors.
“I don’t believe this happened, and it’s disturbing to think someone would kill a little girl, let alone your own daughter,” said Irving Williams, who lives not far from the family’s condo.
Whitney, who lived near the Carrillos in Bangor, said he heard Marissa Kennedy calling out sometimes, but he could not recall if the cries were for help or for something else.
“She’d say, ‘Daddy, Daddy,’” Whitney recalled.
On another occasion, Whitney said he was smoking a cigarette outside when a neighbor approached him because he had just witnessed a grown man punch a little girl with a closed fist. Whitney said it was Carrillo, and watched as the neighbor called police.
Whitney said Julio’s apparent abuse toward his wife began almost immediately after they moved in around August 2016. “About a week or so after they moved in, (Julio) was beating the hell out of his wife, and the neighbor went down and kicked in the door,” he said.
Ethan Miele lived in the apartment above the family in Bangor.
“I called the police at least twice,” Miele told News Center Maine. “What more can you do?”
Miele said his roommate kicked in the couple’s apartment door at one point because of how loud the beatings were. “He talked to the guy and he said, ‘Oh, we were just having a verbal disagreement,’” Miele said.
In interactions outside the home, Julio was pleasant and kind to his neighbors, said Orianna Green, 20, whose apartment shared a wall with the Carrillo’s old unit. “He seemed like he was trying to keep it all together,” Green said.
But through their bathroom wall, she heard a different side of him.
“It was always Julio yelling at Sharon,” Green said. “He’d yell to who I assume was Sharon, ‘you’re so worthless, you’re useless.’”
Green said she never personally called police because every time she and her boyfriend considered it, someone else already had dialed 911.
In Green’s passing interactions with her, Sharon Carrillo seemed beat-down and avoided eye contact, Green said. “She looked like she was in distress.”
The Carrillos called 911 Sunday after the girl was unresponsive.
The Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy and determined that Marissa Kennedy died of battered child syndrome, and had recently suffered a subdural hematoma, a lacerated liver and showed signs of multiple old injuries that were caused by acute and chronic abuse.
While they initially denied harming the girl, the couple confessed to the beatings during police interviews, according to court documents. They also described how they staged a scene inside their Stockton Springs condo to make it appear as though Marissa’s death was the result of an accident, according to the documents.
They described how they forced her to kneel on a tile floor and hold her hands above her head while they whipped her between 10 and 15 times with a leather belt or hit her with their hands. The parents said they chose the tile of the kitchen floor, rather than a carpeted or wooden surface, so it would hurt more.
In one instance, Julio Carrillo broke a metal mop handle across Marissa’s ribs, the couple told police.
Sometimes the parents would lock Marissa in a darkened closet for extended periods. The girl screamed the whole time she was being punished, Sharon Carrillo said, according to the filing.
The beatings continued from about October until Thursday or Friday, when Marissa could no longer walk or speak without slurring her words, police said.
Julio Carrillo told investigators that although he stopped beating Marissa at this time, he believed that his wife inflicted at least one more punishment because she believed the girl was faking her injuries.
Julio Carrillo told police that Marissa was unresponsive on Saturday.
He and his wife discussed how they would stage the scene, and planned to use the basement boiler room as the location. Julio Carrillo carried the girl’s body into the basement room and laid her on the concrete floor, and knocked over two chairs and a step stool in an effort to stage the scene.
After two or three hours, Julio Carrillo told police he went back to the boiler room and carried Marissa up into the home. Sharon Carrillo, who had stayed upstairs with their two other children living in the home, tried to clean the girl’s body. Julio Carrillo then called 911.
“Julio Carrillo explained that he knew Marissa Kennedy was badly injured and in need of medical help but chose not to get her help because he figured Sharon Carillo would lie about how she was hurting Marissa Kennedy and he would be the only one left to blame because he would be honest about what he was doing to her,” the affidavit says.
Sharon Carrillo at first denied any involvement in the child’s injuries, but then told detectives how she and her husband took turns beating the girl.
Police noted extensive bruising across her head, abdomen and legs, and noted multiple open drying wounds to her knees, according to the affidavit.
The family lived in Bangor before moving last fall to the Stockton Springs condominium, which is owned by Sharon Carrillo’s parents, state police said.
The Carrillos’ two other children – ages 1 and 2 – were taken into custody by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, state police spokesman Steve McCausland said.
Neither the husband nor the wife has a criminal record in Maine.
Neither of the other children, a boy and a girl, showed signs of physical abuse, McCausland said. It was not clear why the parents singled out Marissa or what rationale they gave for punishing her so severely.
She was last enrolled in the local elementary school in neighboring Searsport in November, McCausland said. He did not know why she was not in school in the period before her death.
The Carrillos had drawn attention from police in the past for fighting with each other. Officers from the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office, state police and Bangor police had responded to multiple domestic violence calls involving the couple.
A neighbor at the condominium complex told officers that on Saturday the Carrillos began arguing at 8 a.m., including outside near their garage. They did not stop until 4 p.m. that day, the neighbor said.
Sharon Carillo is represented by attorney Christopher MacLean of Camden. Julio Carillo is represented by attorney Steven Peterson of Rockport.
Both attorneys can argue for a different bail once they have reviewed the evidence collected by the Maine State Police and Maine Attorney General’s Office.
Macomber said the defendants pose an extreme flight risk if released on bail. Sharon Carrillo has no criminal record and has only lived in Maine for two years. Julio Carrillo has a domestic violence assault conviction from 2000 in Kentucky, the prosecutor said.
If the pair were able to raise the cash bail, they would be prohibited from contact with anyone under 15 years old.
This story will be updated.