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Maine man pleads guilty to child’s death that spurred reform

July 22, 2019
Julio Carrillo pleads guilty for the fatal beating of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy Monday, July 22, 2019, at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast, Maine. (Linda Coan O'Kresik/The Bangor Daily News via AP)
Julio Carrillo pleads guilty for the fatal beating of 10-year-old Marissa Kennedy Monday, July 22, 2019, at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast, Maine. (Linda Coan O'Kresik/The Bangor Daily News via AP)

BELFAST, Maine (AP) — A Maine man pleaded guilty Monday to murder in the beating death of his 10-year-old stepdaughter, whose abuse sparked outrage and led to changes in the state child welfare system.

The state plans to seek a life prison sentence against 52-year-old Julio Carrillo, who entered his plea Monday in Waldo County Superior Court. He’s due to be sentenced next month.

He and the child’s mother, Sharon Carrillo, are accused of beating Marissa Kennedy before her death in February 2018 in Stockton Springs. They are also accused of trying to make it look like an accident.

Julio Carrillo’s lawyer, Darrick Banda, said that by accepting responsibility, his client hopes to avoid going to prison for the rest of his life.

Sharon Carrillo, who contends she was abused by her husband, plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges against her. One of her lawyers, Laura Shaw, said the guilty plea “validates her story” and shows her husband was the guilty party.

But prosecutors said her husband’s guilty plea doesn’t change the case against her. Assistant Attorney General Don Macomber told the Portland Press Herald that the state will argue that she “is just as guilty as Julio is.”

The state medical examiner’s office concluded the girl was victim of battered child syndrome and listed injuries including bleeding in the brain, a lacerated liver and “multiple old injuries.” A state police affidavit indicated both Carrillos admitted to participating in the abuse.

The deaths of Marissa Kennedy and another girl, 4-year-old Kendall Chick in December 2017, led to changes in Maine’s child protective system.

Since those high-profile cases, state lawmakers have boosted funding for caseworkers and changed how the state tackles investigations into alleged child abuse, including hiring more caseworkers and providing extra home visits from public health nurses.

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