January 4, 2013

New Gloucester murder trial to begin Monday

Joel Hayden is accused of shooting the mother of his four children and a longtime friend in 2011.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Opening arguments are expected Monday in the murder trial of Joel Hayden, who is accused of shooting the mother of his four children and a longtime friend in New Gloucester in 2011.

Hayden, 31, is charged with murdering Renee Sandora of New Gloucester and Trevor Mills of New Bedford, Mass., outside Sandora's home on July 25, 2011. He was arrested that night after leading police on a car chase that ended when he crashed in Lyman.

Police said Hayden's and Sandora's oldest son, who was 7, witnessed the shooting while his younger siblings sat in a car in the driveway.

Hayden's attorneys, Clifford Strike and Sarah Churchill, and the prosecutors, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese and Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, were in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court on Friday for jury selection. Justice Nancy Mills is presiding.

Marchese declined to say Friday whether she will call the child as a witness. She said she expects to call about 20 witnesses and expects the trial to last about a week and a half.

Strike declined to say who he will call as defense witnesses.

Sandora called 911 just before she died to report that her boyfriend had shot her and a friend, according to a police affidavit filed in the case.

"My boyfriend just shot me. He shot his friend, too. I've got four kids," Sandora said, according to the affidavit.

Sandora said during the 35-second call that the gunman was in the home and she was outside, unable to leave because he had the keys to the car.

On the recording, according to the affidavit, Sandora can be heard talking to someone else.

"What -- are you going to kill me in front of my kids?" she asked.

Sandora, 27, and Mills, 28, both died at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston a day after they were shot.

Hayden and Sandora had four children together. At the time of the shooting, they ranged in age from 3 months to 7 years.

Sandora's parents said the couple fought in the weeks before the shooting, she kicked him out of the home and Hayden accused her of having a relationship with Mills, according to a police affidavit.

The affidavit says neighbors who saw the oldest child after the shooting said he stood in the yard, yelling "don't shoot" and "don't leave" as a car sped away.


Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:



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