May 27, 2018
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Judge refuses to remove prosecutors from Marissa Kennedy case

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Sharon Carrillo, 33, during her initial court appearance at the Waldo County Superiour Court in February.
By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Updated:

BELFAST, Maine — The Maine attorney general’s office will continue to try a Stockton Springs couple for the beating death of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy, after a Superior Court justice denied the defense team’s bid to kick prosecutors off the case.

Sharon and Julio Carrillo, Marissa’s mother and stepfather, are charged with depraved indifference murder in the girl’s death. Prosecutors say the Carrillos beat Marissa on a daily basis for months until she died from her injuries, then tried to make her death look like an accident.

During a tense hearing Thursday morning, defense attorneys representing Sharon Carrillo asked the judge to disqualify the entire attorney general’s office, or at least individual prosecutors, from the case. They made that push after prosecutors gathered out-of-state records tied to the case using subpoenas that didn’t go through proper channels.

Justice Robert Murray issued his decision late Thursday night, writing that he wasn’t persuaded that the state prosecutors’ conduct “rises to the level of behavior which would warrant the rather extraordinary remedy of disqualification.”

Disqualifying the entire AG’s office would have been an unprecedented step in Maine law, and disqualifying individual prosecutors would have been highly unusual.

The spat started last month after the AG’s office sent subpoenas to a New York school for students with intellectual disabilities that Sharon Carrillo attended, as well as a New York Walmart where both Carrillos were employed.

Those subpoenas weren’t valid because they were issued out of jurisdiction to agencies in other states, and sought confidential information without needed court approvals. Murray ordered the state to turn over or destroy any records it received in response to those subpoenas. Prosecutors also had to file affidavits detailing who saw those records, and how much they saw, to determine if they saw any privileged information that should disqualify them from the cases.

Sharon Carrillo’s defense attorney, Christopher MacLean, also argued the affidavits weren’t valid, because the text in some appeared to have been changed to remove the word “sworn.” Assistant Attorneys General Leane Zainea and Donald Macomber said in open court Thursday that their statements were sworn in front of a notary, which was enough to convince Murray.

“The court has already undertaken steps to ameliorate the impact of the state’s erroneous conduct in seeking and acquiring the documentation at issue,” Murray wrote in his decision.

Prosecutors admitted to “procedural errors” in issuing subpoenas but denied claims that they were purposefully dishonest or attempting to infringe on Sharon Carrillo’s rights.

MacLean accused prosecutors of intentionally misleading the school and Walmart, and repeatedly referred to the subpoenas as “fake” and “illegal.”

During Thursday’s hearing, Macomber was visibly frustrated with the accusations. At one point, MacLean placed papers in front of Macomber, who tossed them back onto the podium at the center of the courtroom. He later told the judge he was struggling to “contain [his] rage.”

Macomber, who admitted to mistakes in the subpoenas, declined to comment on the judge’s decision Friday. On Thursday, he called the defense’s push to have the AG’s office disqualified “shameless posturing.”

“The defense lawyers for Sharon Carrillo are trying to make this about the prosecution,” Macomber said Thursday. “It’s not. This is about Marissa Kennedy and what happened to her.”

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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