BELFAST, Maine — The night after first responders discovered Marissa Kennedy’s lifeless body at her home in Stockton Springs, two Maine State Police detectives interviewed her mother for more than two hours at the town office, trying to get to the bottom of what happened.
For much of the time, Sharon Carrillo, who is being tried for the murder of her daughter, was calm, pleasant and conversational, Detective Jason Andrews told the court on Monday afternoon. The audio recording of the session, which was played for the jury, indicated that Carrillo staunchly denied having anything to do with Kennedy’s death — even though she confessed to the crime not long afterward, according to state prosecutors and police affidavits filed in the case.
Julio Carrillo, Sharon Carrillo’s estranged husband and Kennedy’s stepfather, has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for his role in the girl’s February 2018 beating death, which state officials said took place over the course of several months. Prosecutors say that Sharon Carrillo is also responsible for her daughter’s murder, but her defense attorneys argue their client is also a victim of Julio Carrillo.
Repeatedly the detectives probed her for information about the types of punishment that had been meted out to Kennedy.
“What did you guys do to try to control her,” a detective asked Sharon Carrillo in the interview. “I’ve run into a lot of really good parents who had a tough time controlling tough kids. There’s only so many tools a parent has at the end of the day.”
Detectives asked if her husband punished Kennedy in ways she did not know about.
But the mother was firm.
“We don’t do any spanking or anything,” Carrillo said at first, though later in the interview she admitted to giving Kennedy a swat or two on occasion. “My husband and I would never hurt our kids like that. We would never take a belt or anything. We would never hurt a kid.”
Sharon Carrillo did share other information with the police. She told them that in her house, she and Kennedy were the ones with hot tempers, while Julio Carrillo was more calm. She said that the source of her own problems was being sexually abused when she was 8, and that she had a good relationship with her husband. She told police that her daughter was a handful and had started to hurt herself when the family lived in Bangor, and that she and her husband often could not figure out what to do with her when she was acting up.
Sometimes the girl — who Sharon Carrillo described as “very bright” and who enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books and who had made the honor roll at the Fairmount School in Bangor — would become uncontrollable and violent, she said.
“She throws chairs across rooms. Throws herself into walls,” Sharon Carrillo said on the audiotape. “She got physical a few times with my husband, punching him and kicking him.”
The day of Kennedy’s death, the girl had been screaming, she told the police — a troubling development to a family that had been put on notice that if they continued to fight noisily, they likely would have to move out. Kennedy went downstairs alone to watch the movie “Despicable Me,” Sharon Carrillo told police, and was down there for a long time. When Julio Carrillo went to check on her, he found her hurt on the basement floor and carried her upstairs, where her mother said she saw Kennedy “bleed through her mouth and nose.”
They called 911, where a dispatcher told them to put her on the floor and start CPR, but took the time to take off her bloody t-shirt and replace it with a fresh one. Sharon Carrillo told the detectives she thought Kennedy might have hurt herself on purpose.
“We didn’t know she was going to go down there and do it,” she said. “If she had told us she felt like going downstairs and harming herself, we would have taken action right away.”
But the detectives — who knew about injuries on Kennedy’s body that looked much older than just that day, including on her stomach and on her knees — were skeptical.
“I’ve never heard of a 10-year-old child injuring herself across the stomach,” one said. “That makes me think it’s generally pretty unlikely that is what happened. I think you have a little more in your brain as to what may have happened than what you told me.”
The trial is expected to continue on Tuesday with more testimony from law enforcement officers and crime scene technicians.