January 19, 2020
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Recordings show Marissa Kennedy tried to fight off her abusive stepfather

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Opening statements in the Sharon Carrillo murder trial got underway Dec. 6, 2019, for her alleged participation in the beatings and torture of her 10-year-old daughter, Marissa Kennedy.

If you are concerned about a child being neglected or abused, call Maine’s 24-hour hotline at 800-452-1999 or 711 to speak with a child protective specialist. Calls may be made anonymously. For more information, visit maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cw/reporting_abuse.

BELFAST, Maine — Jurors saw more disturbing photos and videos Wednesday as Sharon Carrillo’s murder trial continued, including footage that showed an angry 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy wearing pink-and-blue footie pajamas and screaming at her stepfather, Julio Carrillo.

“I’m not letting you record me,” said the girl, full of rage and life. “I hate you.”

At the beginning of an emotionally draining day in court, jurors saw a photo of Kennedy, badly bruised and wearing only underwear, kneeling on the tile floor with her hands up. A second photo showed the girl in the same position, this time with her naked, pregnant mother kneeling behind her, her own hands extended above her head.

The images and videos were recovered from the nine cellphones found at the Carrillo home in Stockton Springs, according to testimony from Dawn Ego of the Maine State Police’s Computer Crimes Unit. Sharon Carrillo, 35, has been charged with the murder of Kennedy, who died from child abuse in February 2018. Julio Carrillo, Sharon’s husband and Kennedy’s stepfather, is serving a 55-year sentence for murder. Sharon Carrillo’s attorneys argue their client was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of her husband and that she should not be found guilty in the death of her daughter.

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
An undated photo of Marissa Kennedy.

Ego told Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea that she did not know who took the photo of the girl by herself. Sharon Carrillo cried in the courtroom as the photograph was displayed on the video screen, and continued crying as the image of herself and her daughter was shown.

Over the course of the day, jurors were shown several videos confiscated from the family’s phones. Julio Carrillo was the cameraman in most — if not all — of them. He could be heard saying that he was making the recordings to show authority figures including the police, the hospital and possibly social worker Sue Webber what was really going on with both Sharon Carrillo and Kennedy.

He shot one of the videos on Christmas Day 2017, a chilling counterpoint to most family holiday home movies. In it, a distraught Sharon Carrillo is screaming, crying and pleading for Julio Carrillo to leave her alone. Their toddler wanders around the empty room in their Stockton Springs condominium as his parents yell and scream close to him.

“Go sit. Go sit down,” Julio Carrillo, who is holding the phone, yelled at his wife. “No one has done nothing to you. This is for no reason. On this day. On Christmas Day.”

Sharon Carrillo screamed back: “Let me calm down. Leave me alone for a second.”

In the second video shown, Sharon Carrillo, wearing a pink robe and fuzzy socks, moves around the apartment in a state of acute distress as her husband follows her with the phone. She went into the bathroom and then into the family’s bedroom and covers herself up with a blanket, which Julio Carrillo removes.

“I just want to calm down, please,” Sharon Carrillo, who is pregnant, said, screaming at him.

“Stop this! It is too early in the morning for this,” her husband yelled back. “Sharon, get up! You have done so much damage to the baby inside you. I just asked you to sit up! Oh my God, please! Just sit up!”

Then he mentioned Kennedy.

“Look what Marissa’s doing now — Marissa’s behaving and you’re not,” Julio Carrillo said to her.

Again Sharon Carrillo screamed back: “Stop recording me! Stop recording me! Stop recording me!”

In cross-examination, Sharon Carrillo’s attorney Laura Shaw of Camden asked Ego about other videos that had been extracted from the phones, some of which were then shown to jurors. In one, Julio Carrillo is reprimanding his wife for being a bad mom to their two youngest children, who he said were “crying, screaming and yelling.”

“Sharon Carrillo needs to be put away for a very long time. She needs to lose all her kids,” he told her. “She needs to learn her lesson. She’s abusing these babies.”

But the videos that were the most difficult to watch were of Marissa Kennedy. In one, the pajama-clad girl screamed and tried to fight her stepfather as he directed Sharon Carrillo to put some of her jeans and shirts in a black plastic bag. She was going to be sent away, was the intimation.

“She can stay away for two or three months,” Julio Carrillo said.

In another video that appeared to have been taken the same night, Julio Carrillo told Kennedy to “stop it,” possibly referring to her screaming.

“Daddy’s calling the people to come pick you up. Stop it. Stop it,” he said to the girl. “This is exactly what your mother did. She didn’t learn it until she got picked up.”

But Kennedy, crying and upset, did not back down.

“No! Not ’til you stop first,” she said. “Stop recording me!”

Her fighting spirit was not apparent in the next images shown to the jury. There were photos of Kennedy’s badly bruised body and face, which may have been taken not long before her death. Another showed her kneeling in only her underwear, with her arms extended above her.

The pictures were so distressing that some of the jurors looked away from the screen.

One of the final witnesses of the day was Mark Flomenbaum, the state’s chief medical examiner. He testified about the extent of Kennedy’s injuries and what was finally the cause of her death. Jurors saw photos of the bruises that stained much of her skin purple, blue, red and yellow, of the “pattern injuries” that seemed to indicate where she had been struck with a belt buckle, knuckles or feet, and of deep open wounds on her knees, shins and feet, which were infected. As well, she suffered hair loss from chronic stress, had broken ribs and a lacerated liver, among other injuries.

Altogether, Kennedy’s body showed between 40 and 50 distinct blunt force injuries. But no single one was the reason why she died, he said.

“The heart finally gave way. Pain. Inability to fight the infection. Each one independently probably could have been survivable,” Flomenbaum said, saying that the official term for what killed her was battered child syndrome. “The cause of death is the cumulative effect of all these things I’ve been talking about.”

 



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