April 19, 2018
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New courtroom drama breaks out in Marissa Kennedy murder case

Courtesy photo | BDN
Courtesy photo | BDN
Marissa Kennedy steps on the bus for the first day of kindergarten in New Windsor, New York, several years ago.
By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff
Updated:

BELFAST, Maine — A superior court justice is weighing whether to kick prosecutors off the case of a mother and stepfather accused of brutally beating 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy to death earlier this year in Stockton Springs.

Sharon Carrillo, Marissa’s mother, and her husband, Julio Carrillo, face charges of depraved indifference murder for the child’s death.

During a heated court hearing Thursday morning, Christopher MacLean, a defense attorney representing Sharon Carrillo, asked Justice Robert Murray to disqualify the entire attorney general’s staff, or at least the lead prosecutors, from continuing with the case.

[Judge rules Maine prosecutors improperly acquired info in Marissa Kennedy case]

At one point, MacLean presented a document from the secretary of state’s office outlining the rules surrounding sworn affidavits, and laid a copy in front of Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber. Macomber said he didn’t want the document, but MacLean left it on his desk anyway.

As MacLean walked toward Murray to hand him another copy, Macomber grabbed the pages in front of him and tossed them back on the podium at the center of the courtroom.

“Let the record reflect that [Macomber] just threw the exhibit back at me,” MacLean said after returning to the podium.

The spat stems from a series of subpoenas that prosecutors sent to Sharon Carrillo’s former school in New York, as well as an out-of-state Walmart that employed both Carrillos. Sharon Carrillo’s defense attorneys challenged the subpoenas because Maine subpoenas don’t carry authority outside of Maine.

Prosecutors also didn’t file a motion that’s required when seeking records that include confidential information, such as mental health records. The subpoenas also claimed that the recipients would have to appear for an April 6 court date if they refused to comply, but no such court date was scheduled.

Earlier this month, Murray ruled that the subpoenas were issued improperly. He gave prosecutors 48 hours to surrender any documents received in response, and ordered them to file affidavits detailing who in the AG’s office looked at or handled the records, and to what extent.

[Affidavit: Maine girl, 10, allegedly killed by parents suffered months of violent abuse]

MacLean has repeatedly referred to them as “fake subpoenas,” and accused prosecutors of using deceptive tactics to gather information and violate his client’s rights. Prosecutors have admitted that the subpoenas weren’t handled properly, and turned over all records sent by the school and Walmart.

MacLean also questioned the validity of the affidavits, claiming that six of the nine filed by people tied to the prosecution’s investigation weren’t valid. He claimed the statements weren’t sworn before a notary, and pointed to a clause at the foot of some affidavits, which he said appeared to have been altered to remove the word “sworn.”

Macomber and Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea each said they took an oath in front of a notary before signing their affidavits.

“Forgive me, your honor. I’m trying to contain my rage,” Macomber told the judge, adding that he was frustrated that his integrity, and the integrity of the AG’s office, were being unjustly challenged.

“I fell on my sword, I made a mistake,” Macomber added. He said prosecutors never tried to intentionally mislead, and had simply made procedural errors in their efforts to gather information about the case.

It’s unclear when Murray will make his decision, but it could be by the end of the week. Removal of the attorney general’s entire prosecutorial staff from the case would be an unprecedented and unlikely move, though individual prosecutors and attorneys have been removed from cases before.

Prosecutors say Sharon and Julio Carrillo beat Marissa Kennedy on a nearly daily basis for months until she died from her injuries. The Carrillos allegedly refused to get Marissa medical help when her condition worsened, and tried to make her death look like an accident.

After the hearing, Macomber called the defense’s efforts to have prosecutors disqualified “shameless posturing.”

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

Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter at @nmccrea213.

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