Trial underway for child killing that led to reforms

BELFAST, Maine (AP) — A Maine woman accused in the brutal death of her 10-year-old daughter confessed that both she and her husband beat the girl a couple of times a day — beatings that amounted to torture over a period of months, a prosecutor told jurors Friday.

Sharon Carrillo knew her daughter needed to go to a hospital — the girl had slurred speech and couldn’t walk — but she and the girl’s stepfather declined to do so because they didn’t want to get into trouble, Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber said.

The defense contends Sharon Carrillo was a victim of domestic violence and extremely low IQ, both of which factored into a false confession.

Sharon Carrillo wept at opening of her trial as the prosecutor described the death of Marissa Kennedy, whose killing shocked the state and led to child welfare reforms. The girl’s stepfather, Julio Carrillo, is serving a 55-year sentence after pleading guilty to his role.

Defense attorney Christopher MacLean contends that Julio Carrillo abused both his wife and her daughter, and that he alone was responsible for inflicting the fatal injuries on Marissa in their home in Stockton Springs.

But prosecutors say Sharon Carrillo is just as guilty as her now-estranged husband in causing the fatal injuries. The state will prove she participated in the beatings in which the girl was struck, kicked and beaten with a belt and mop, Macomber said.

Marissa was found beaten to death in February 2018. Law enforcement officials said the crime scene was staged to make it look like the death was an accident. An autopsy concluded that she had a brain bleed and a lacerated liver, along with older injuries.

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, which was accused of missing or ignoring warning signs.

The state boosted funding for caseworkers and changed how the state tackles investigations into alleged child abuse, among other things.

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