SOUTH PARIS — A Hartford man who beat his longtime girlfriend to death with metal rods while their two young children were in the house in 2018 was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years in prison.

Justice William Stokes sentenced Rondon Athayde, 49, in Oxford County Superior Court.

Athayde was convicted of murder in June by a jury who deliberated less than 25 minutes.

In administering the sentence, Stokes called the “brutal” and “extraordinarily violent” domestic violence assault an “abomination,” adding that the images of 41-year-old Ana Cordero and the crime scene, “stayed with me for several weeks.”

Stokes added it was clear to him from the evidence presented at trial that it hadn’t been the first time Cordero had been physically assaulted.

“In all my time on the bench and as a homicide prosecutor, this was one of the most brutal beatings I have experienced,” he said.

Maine’s chief medical examiner testified at trial that Athayde had beaten Cordero at least 43 times with metal rods at their home at 62 Bear Mountain Road on Dec. 13, 2018.

The couple had moved from Brazil to Maine.

Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bud” Ellis said several of the wounds Cordero suffered had been older ones that had started to heal, but were “ripped open” anew by the attack. According to Ellis, the earlier assaults left evidence of, “bruises and contusions on her face, genital area and all over her body.”

Ellis added that Cordero suffered a “slow, painful death.”

“What should be very clear, is that this murder involved extreme cruelty which amounted to torture of Ana over a number of hours,” he said.

The medical examiner concluded the cause of Cordero’s death was, “acute and chronic abuse with extensive bruising and hemorrhage,” Ellis said Tuesday, and the case represented “the ultimate act of domestic violence.”

The couple’s 3- and 4-year-old daughters had been home at the time of Cordero’s fatal beating, investigators determined.

The likely damage they suffered by that experience should be factored into the sentence, Ellis said.

Stokes agreed.

Ellis requested the court hand down a sentence of 55 years.

Defense attorney Clifford Strike sought a 35-year sentence, noting his client’s lack of criminal history and his acceptance of responsibility and cooperation with police, which included a seven-hour interview and crime scene walk-through.

After realizing Cordero was unresponsive after his assault, he called 911 and administered CPR until emergency responders arrived, Strike said.

Athayde admitted to them that it had been his fault.

Strike had hoped jurors would have returned a finding of manslaughter were they to convict his client at trial, arguing the attack had not been premeditated.

Stokes agreed with Ellis, saying Athayde had taken no responsibility for his crime and blamed Cordero as an equal participant in a domestic altercation.

The only apparent injury Athayde suffered was a red mark on his shin, Ellis said.

Rondon Athayde, standing, reads Tuesday from prepared remarks during his sentencing in Oxford County Superior Court in Paris for the 2018 murder of his girlfriend, Ana Cordero, in Hartford. Cordero’s sister listens via video from Brazil. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal

Cordero’s sister, Cynthia, gave a victim impact statement Tuesday from Brazil via videoconference on monitors stationed throughout the courtroom. She said her sister had served as a mentor, teaching her how to study and fight for her goals. She said Cordero had always been cheerful until she became involved with Athayde, when she would always appear to be sad.

“Her behavior was completely changed,” Cynthia Cordero said.

Only recently did she learn about the details of the physical abuse her sister suffered at Athayde’s hands.

“That pain tears my heart every day,” she said, adding she didn’t have the courage to share those details with her parents for fear of them not being able to bear the facts. Cynthia Cordero took custody of her two nieces after her sister’s death.

“My family’s lives have completely changed because of this crime,” she said.

Athayde, whose hands were cuffed to a belt around his waist, read from a prepared statement, first addressing the Cordero family.

“I would like to say that I am deeply, deeply sorry,” he said in English. When talking about missing his daughters, Athayde broke down into tears.

“I did not want this.” he said to Justice Stokes, explaining that he hadn’t been a violent person before the fatal assault.

Stokes called it a “paradox” that an intelligent man who had earned a college degree after coming to the United States, and a solid work history before emigrating, would be capable of such brutality and hadn’t lived a life of crime.

Stokes said he had considered a life sentence in this case due to the extreme cruelty displayed by Athayde, but it lacked the legal elements for that punishment.

He ordered Athayde to pay $3,198.47 in restitution to the victim’s compensation fund to reimburse it for funeral and counseling expenses.

Strike said he planned to file papers preserving Athayde’s right to appeal his conviction and sentence.

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