BELFAST (AP) — Former neighbors of a couple accused of fatally beating a 10-year-old girl said they heard abuse months ago and reported it to police and the state health and human services’ officials.

Julio and Sharon Carrillo, of Stockton Springs, were each ordered held Wednesday on $500,000 cash bail during their first court appearance after their arrests.

They’re charged with murder in the death of Sharon Carrillo’s 10-year-old daughter, Marrissa Kennedy, in their home. The Carrillos told police they’d beaten the girl for months and that they tried to stage the scene to make it appear her death was an accident before they called 911 Sunday.

Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber suggested Wednesday that the beatings over an extended period of time amounted to “torture.”

Attorneys for the couple said they intended to look into the validity of their alleged confessions. The attorneys also said that they may seek psychiatric examinations for the couple.

“There’s always a rush to believe the worst and to believe that these people are villainous monsters. But fortunately we have this legal system that is a buffer that allows us to sift through to see what really happened,” said Chris MacLean, lawyer for Sharon Carrillo.

Sharon Carrillo, 33, has no criminal record while her husband, 51, had a domestic assault conviction from years ago in Kentucky.

The two had lived in Bangor before moving to Stockton Springs, and some neighbors reported hearing abuse in their home. A spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday night it couldn’t comment on the case.

“The death of a child under any circumstance is an incredible loss to both loved ones and our state,” said DHHS spokeswoman Emily Spencer. “As it is with every case, I am not able to comment and I cannot confirm or deny any DHHS involvement as records that contain personally identifiable information are confidential.”

“Someone dropped the ball here. That little girl shouldn’t be dead right now,” Dan Whitney, 68, a former neighbor in Bangor, told the Portland Press Herald, noting he saw police visit the Carrillo home numerous times.

Officials at RSU 20, the school district where Marrissa was a student, said they couldn’t talk about specifics of the case. But they said a support system was in place for students and staff.

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