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Sharon Kennedy asks Supreme Judicial Court for new trial

By Fran Gonzalez | Nov 13, 2020
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Sharon Kennedy is consoled by her attorney, Laura Shaw, at Waldo County Judicial Center Feb. 21. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments remotely in Kennedy's appeal Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Augusta — Sharon Carrillo, who now uses her maiden name of Sharon Kennedy, was sentenced to 48 years in prison Feb. 21 for her role in the 2018 death of her 10-year-old daughter, Marissa Kennedy. She is now appealing to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court for a new trial.

According to previous reports, Marissa was found dead in February 2018 inside the Stockton Springs condominium where she lived with Sharon and her stepfather, Julio Carrillo, and two younger children.

While the couple tried to depict Marissa’s death as an accident or the result of self-inflicted injuries, police and medical personnel determined the girl had been severely abused for a prolonged period.

At Kennedy's sentencing hearing Feb. 21, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea asked the court for a life sentence, while Kennedy’s attorney Laura Shaw asked for the minimum allowable prison time of 25 years.

Christopher K. MacLean, attorney for Kennedy, said in an appeal argument summary that Superior Court Justice Robert Murray erred in denying her motion to suppress statements she made to police because of her intellectual limitations, because she had been abused by Carrillo, who was also convicted of murder and is serving 55 years, and because she was coerced by law enforcement.

Murray failed to instruct the jury, MacLean said, that a victim of domestic violence cannot be an accomplice to the same "course of conduct" that she was a victim of and that caused the child's death.

The court also failed to consider Kennedy's status as a domestic violence victim as a mitigating factor in sentencing, MacLean said, and instead found her to be an "active participant."

As reported in the Bangor Daily News, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said in her brief for the prosecution that "Murray's decisions and sentencing follow the law and that there was no evidence presented at the trial that Kennedy was a victim of physical abuse as her daughter was."

At the Feb. 21 sentencing hearing, Murray said the case fully supported the jury’s verdict and also supported the defendant’s role in the beatings. But he added that in comparison to Carrillo, her role was less egregious.

The fact that Kennedy had no prior criminal history, had significant family support and limited intellectual capacity were mitigating factors, Murray said. Kennedy is prone to manipulation and there is evidence of domestic violence between the defendant and the co-conspirator.

In a conversation with The Republican Journal, MacLean said Kennedy's conviction was a "gross miscarriage of justice," with the jury not allowed to consider the issue of duress.

"I do feel confident (about the appeal)," he said. "It would be the right thing to do."

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments remotely Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 10 a.m. The hearing will be streamed online at courts.maine.gov/maine_courts/supreme/stream.shtml.

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