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Man who shot mother of 4 kids, friend gets life sentence

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Defendant Joel Hayden arrives in court before opening arguments in his double murder trial in Portland on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013.
By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — A man convicted of murdering the mother of his children and a friend was sentenced Tuesday in Cumberland County Superior Court to life in prison, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.

Joel Hayden, 31, of New Bedford, Mass., was convicted last month of two counts of murder for shooting Renee Sandora on July 25, 2011, at Sandora’s home in New Gloucester in front of Hayden’s then 7-year-old son. Hayden also killed Trevor Mills, 28, of New Bedford, Mass.

Sandora was Hayden’s former girlfriend and the mother of his four children, and Mills was a longtime friend.

Maine Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills, who is not related to the victim Mills, imposed two concurrent life sentences less than a month after Hayden was convicted Jan. 14 by a Cumberland County jury.

“We were very pleased with the sentences imposed by Justice Mills,” Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said Wednesday in an email. “They were well-reasoned and sent the strong message that exposing children to domestic violence homicides will result in a lengthy prison sentence.

“Joel Hayden not only shot and killed his best friend and the mother of his four children but he placed all four children in the line of fire, which could have resulted in their deaths as well,” Marchese continued. “Other aggravating factors that the justice considered were the failure to accept responsibility which resulted in his 8-year-old son having to testify against him as well as the overall victim impact.”

The boy testified the first day of the trial that he saw his father shoot his mother and Mills.

Marchese and her co-counsel, Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, recommended Hayden be sentenced to between 70 years and life in prison, Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said Wednesday.

Defense attorneys Clifford Strike and Sarah Churchill, both of Portland, urged Mills impose sentences of 50 years. Efforts to reach them Wednesday were unsuccessful. The attorneys have said they will appeal the case to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

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