New Bedford man gets life for killing the mother of his children and a friend


PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- A Massachusetts man convicted of gunning down two people, including the mother of his four children in front of their 7-year-old son, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison by a judge who chastised him for holding out for a trial in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Joel Hayden, 31, of New Bedford, was convicted last month of two counts of murder in the July 25, 2011, deaths of his estranged girlfriend, 27-year-old Renee Sandora, of New Gloucester, and his friend, 28-year-old Trevor Mills, of New Bedford. He thought they were having an affair.

During Hayden's trial, his son, now 8, testified that he saw his father shoot his mother outside her home in New Gloucester.

Other evidence included Sandora's 911 call in which she could be heard saying, "My boyfriend just shot me." Hayden was arrested after fleeing in Mills' car.

"The evidence in this case was overwhelming, yet you forced your own son to testify against his father in a courtroom packed with strangers," Justice Nancy Mills said.

Mills, who imposed concurrent life sentences on Hayden, said the killings were cruel and premeditated and left four children without a mother.

Several family members of Sandora and Mills had harsh words, calling Hayden a coward and a monster.

Hayden, who had 16 prior criminal convictions, including an arrest for a 2005 drive-by shooting, asked people to pray for him as he left the courtroom.

His attorneys vowed to appeal.

They previously suggested that Hayden was impaired by marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone and hydrocodone found in his system after his arrest and that DNA evidence possibly pointed to another killer.


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