ROCKLAND, Maine — The Rockland man convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend two years ago and dumping her body along a rural road was sentenced Friday afternoon to 45 years in prison.
Arnold Diana, 37, declined to address Justice Jeffrey Hjelm or the family and friends of victim Katrina Windred who were present at Knox County Superior Court for his sentencing hearing.
But he listened as her loved ones spoke up, often through tears, about the kind of person she was and the hole in their lives her loss has left.
Windred, a single mother from Friendship, was 47 when she was strangled on Nov. 20, 2010, in Diana’s apartment in the Thorndike building in Rockland after going there to drop off some groceries. Her 10-year-old son had been waiting in her car while his mother was killed, according to Assistant District Attorney Lisa Marchese.
Diana told Maine State Police investigators that he then got the boy, telling him that his mother was taking a nap, and put him in the same bedroom where Windred’s body lay. As the boy later slept, Diana wrapped Windred in a blanket, tied her with cut-up towels and then drove to Thompson Meadow Road, where he dumped her body on the side of the road. A man walking his dog there found her body three days later.
Diana was convicted in July by a Knox County jury after a trial that lasted nearly two weeks.
“She had a pure spirit with such compassion that she made an impact on every soul she met,” Lynne Stevens of Rockland said about her friend during the hearing. “It is a sad testament to her life that her life would be so callously snuffed out by one she was trying to help.”
Marchese said that the murder was a clear example of domestic violence homicide and had asked the court for a 50-year sentence. The prosecutor pointed out that at the time of the murder, Diana was on probation for domestic violence assault on another woman.
“This case really represents domestic violence at the extreme,” Marchese said. “Katrina needed to know that she was free to end a relationship. … The reason is that Katrina had moved on with her life. He recognized that their intimate bond was over, and that’s when she was killed.”
Defense attorney Chris MacLean said after the hearing that his client maintains his innocence in Windred’s death and continues to assert that Windred’s murderer is another woman who was involved with Diana and was upset that he maintained a relationship with Windred. During the sentencing hearing, MacLean emphasized factors that could have mitigated Diana’s sentence, including his client’s low IQ, severe mental and physical difficulties and abusive childhood. The defense attorney asked Hjelm for a 25- to 30-year sentence. The minimum mandatory sentence for murder is 25 years in prison.
“We’re definitely going to appeal,” MacLean said after the sentencing. “We were really impressed with how thoughtfully the judge had considered arguments made by both the prosecution and the defense. What it comes down to — we would put a lot more weight on the mitigating factors. The court placed a lot more weight on victim impact.”
Among those victims most severely affected is Windred’s son, who is now 12. Many of the friends who spoke during the hearing talked about his close bond with his mother and the hardships of his dealing with both her death and the manner in which she was killed.
Vicki Harriman of Union said that Windred was a loving mother to her son, a gifted equine professional and a woman who survived three diagnoses of cancer.
“The loss of Katrina in our lives is huge beyond words,” she said, asking that the court place Diana somewhere he “will never be able to harm anyone again.”
Angie Porter of Readfield spoke through tears.
“Arnold has taken a mother, a sister, a friend and an extraordinary woman from our lives,” she said. “He has been at our home and shared meals at our table. We trusted him.”
She described Windred as the sister she never had.
“Even though she was a tiny lady, she had the strength of a lumberjack when she gave you a hug,” Porter said.
At one point, a slideshow showing photos of Windred was displayed in the courtroom. She was seen as a smiling child, a teen on skis and an adult riding horses and playing with her tow-headed son.
Hjelm explained that he determined the length of Diana’s sentence by taking many factors into consideration, including the fact that Diana killed Windred at the end of their romantic relationship, which had lasted at least a year.
“Hers was a life that ended by somebody she was trying to help,” the justice said. “Strangulation is a very personal type of interaction. The weapon was Mr. Diana’s hands.”
He described the way that Diana brought Windred’s son into his apartment after his mother’s death as “chilling and heartless.”
“The only saving grace is at that time, [he] appears not to have known his mother was dead,” Hjelm said. “That saving grace has disappeared.”
Although MacLean said that his client was cooperative with police after Windred’s death, Hjelm said that Diana denied any involvement in her murder and also tried to hide evidence.
“He prevented an earlier discovery of Ms. Windred’s death,” the justice said.
After the hearing, Marchese said that the state was very satisfied with the sentence.
“Clearly, the judge understood the fact that it was a domestic violence homicide, as well as the impact to her son,” she said.
Pam Vose, Windred’s cousin, said that the now-12-year-old boy is an “amazing child who lost his mother.”
“Katrina was one of those very special people from the youngest age. She always put other people first, and if somebody had any kind of difficulty, she was there for them,” she said. “I am heartbroken. I miss her every day.”