BELFAST – The stepfather of a little girl who has been convicted of murder in her beating death took the stand Friday morning in the murder trial of her mother.
His testimony was held in a separate courtroom, without the jury present.
Julio Carrillo, who is serving a 55-year prison sentence for his role in the death of his 10-year-old stepdaughter, Marissa Kennedy, claimed his Fifth Amendment right not to self-incriminate and declined to testify.
“There is more than one legal ground but we had to go through that question by question and the judge make a determination on an individual basis,” his attorney, Darrick Banda said after the hearing ended.
Sharon and Julio Carrillo both were charged with murder in the Oct. 25, 2018 death of Kennedy, who is the oldest of her four children.
The defense asked more than a dozen questions, including if he beat Kennedy to death by himself.
Others included questions about sexual assaults against both his wife and stepdaughter while kneeling with their arms held above their heads and if he photographed it; if he tried to shift the blame to his wife; if he lied about text messages; if he told coworker that Kennedy died months before she actually did; and if he was involved in two incidents at Acadia Hospital where he got mad when staff met with Kennedy or his wife without him being present.
Later in the day, Julio’s co-worker testified he did lie to them about Marissa dying. The family’s Bangor neighbors testified about hearing and seeing Julio Carrillo hurt his family, reporting it to police and the Department of Health and Human Services and nothing being done.
“It had fallen on deaf ears,” one upstairs neighbor said.
One time the neighbor heard Kennedy yelling, “Daddy stop, please daddy stop.”
He and his roommate confronted Julio Carrillo one night when “it went on longer than normal” and the police came, but the beatings continued, he testified.
The parents of Sharon Carrillo also took the stand, saying she was a loving mother before she married Julio Carrillo and moved from New York to Maine, where they had no family or social support system.
“It looks like it’s prevalent with battery. You isolate your victim then you start your abuse,” her father, Joe Kennedy, said on the courthouse steps.
“Sharon was a completely passive, nonviolent individual who had absolutely no history of even yelling at Marissa,” said her stepmother Roseann Kennedy.
That was before she met Julio, she added.
“She is nonviolent, loving and unfortunately gullible, vulnerable and suggestible to an extreme that most normal people would not understand,” Roseann Kennedy said.
Sharon Carrillo has confessed in video recordings made by Maine State Police detectives, but the defense is arguing she was psychologically coerced into a fake confession.
They called Dr. Michael O’Connell, a board-certified forensic psychologist who specializes in fake confessions from people with lowered mental capacity.
He estimated Sharon Carrillo’s IQ at 70, or in the lower 2 percent of the population. He also diagnosed her with unspecified neurodevelopmental disorder, major depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
O’Connell said during a break that he was there to educate jurors about the three types of fake confessions – voluntary (where someone confesses for notoriety or because of mental illness), compulsion or pressure (where they feel they are forced or are pressured to confess and usually withdraw the confession after the pressure is gone) or internalized (where they believe what they are told and repeat it).
He said he was not at the trial to tell the jury if he thought Sharon Carrillo made a fake confession.
O’Connell said determining that is “their job.”