The accused killers of a 10-year-old Maine girl appeared in a Belfast courtroom Thursday for an evidence suppression hearing.
Marissa Kennedy was found dead in February of 2018. Her mother, Sharon Carrillo, and her step-father, Julio Carrillo, were charged with her murder.
Thursday, the suspects walked into court wearing prison uniforms to watch on as Sharon Carrillo's lawyers questioned state police detectives about interviews they conducted with her.
Defense attorney Chris MacLean, who represents Sharon Carrillo, wants statements she made to police shortly after Kennedy's death suppressed, saying she made them after being coerced by her husband.
"She feared retribution from Julio," said MacLean.
To illustrate his point, MacLean questioned multiple detectives about the techniques they used to question her, whether or not she had been clearly read her Miranda rights and whether or not they had training to identify domestic violence victims.
"Victims of domestic violence, can't they be caught in cycle?" MacLean asked Det. Scott Quintero, called as a witness during the hearing.
"Yes," Quintero replied.
Detectives assert they followed all proper protocols during their question of the suspects, before and after their arrests.
Through questions asked by state prosecutors, they explained they do have domestic violence training, but Sharon Carrillo demonstrated none of the typical signs indicating she was a victim. In fact, the detectives testified she was "sort of giggling" during one of their first visits to the accused couple's home.
The state submitted the video walk-through investigators conducted with Carrillo as evidence and asked the police officers questions about their conduct in the clips.
In one 20-minute video, Quintero is being show around the Carrillos' home by Sharon.
She shows Quintero where a belt and mop used to beat Kennedy were kept, even handing the mop to the detective.
Carrillo also shows areas of the home where Kennedy was beaten on the floor and reads a letter to Maine's Department of Health and Human Services explaining why she didn't want to take care of Kennedy.
"You hated her and she hated you back. Isn't that more the case?" Quintero is heard asking.
Defense attorneys say additional recorded conversations with Julio Carrillo will prove his coercion.
They also are pointing to a picture of Kennedy and a then-pregnant Sharon Carrillo naked on the floor with raised hands as an example of Julio's manipulation and abuse of his wife and the young girl.
Sharon Carrillo's attorneys are also saying she could be manipulated because she is very close to being mentally disabled.
The state police told the judge and Sharon Carrillo's attorneys that picture does not negate other evidence that she was not abused and that she contributed to Kennedy's death.
They claim the photo was among 1,000 other photos on Julio Carrillo's phone and there is testimony from the accused murderers that Sharon was in that position to show Kennedy that position was not as painful as Kennedy had complained to them it was.
Ultimately, the final decision on what will and will not be admitted for the Carrillos' eventual trial is at the discretion of the presiding judge.
According to Maine state attorneys, there is also the chance the two suspects will be tried separately and dates for at least one trial proceeding are already being blocked off in August.
The judge is expected to take at least a few weeks to decide on the suppressed evidence, which Sharon Carrillo's defense saying there is much for the court to consider.
"The judge will have to take all this under advisement there’s an extraordinary amount of transcripts and audio recordings," said MacLean.
Also on Thursday, Gov. Janet Mills convened a "children's cabinet" with state leaders to discuss issues facing Maine children.
During that meeting, DHHS announced child care providers would receive expanded training to help identify and protect at risk children.
Maine lawmakers are reviewing the state's child welfare system, prompted by recent child deaths, including Kennedy's.
The hearing in Kennedy's case is expected to be complete on Friday.