Saturday, March 8, 2014
PORTLAND — A state trooper testified in Joel Hayden's murder trial Tuesday about the high-speed chase and crash that preceded the defendant's arrest in the 2011 slayings of his girlfriend and a friend.
"I was (going) 100 or so mph and he slammed on his brakes to try to make that corner," said Trooper Roger Teachout, after jurors watched dramatic video footage of the 9- to 10-mile chase. It ended when Hayden crashed the black Cadillac DeVille he was driving into a ditch and was arrested at gunpoint.
Teachout was the first witness to testify in the second day of the trial in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland. Hayden, 31, is accused of fatally shooting Renee Sandora, 27, the mother of his children, and Trevor Mills, 28, his longtime friend. The killings took place on July 25, 2011, at Sandora's home at 322 Bennett Road in New Gloucester, as Hayden's then-7-year-old son watched.
Police had received orders that evening, shortly after the shooting, to be on the lookout for a black Cadillac DeVille seen driving away from the house on Bennett Road, and then seen by a toll worker passing through the tollbooths in New Gloucester, Teachout said.
He was parked in an unmarked police cruiser on the side of the southbound lanes of the Maine Turnpike in the area of the Maine Mall when he spotted the Cadillac, he testified.
Teachout followed the Cadillac to Exit 36, and stayed behind it as it headed toward Saco, with his cruiser's onboard video camera recording the car as he followed.
"Right around Wendy's or so (on Route 1 in Scarborough headed into Saco) is where the black Cadillac tried to lose me without really speeding, just jogging between traffic," Teachout said.
He continued to follow without turning on his flashing lights or siren for the first segment of the chase.
"At the intersection of Beach and North (Route 112), he started to accelerate and go through the red light," the trooper said.
In response to questions from the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese, Teachout described the chase as the video played, showing the Cadillac going through the centers of Saco and Biddeford at speeds of 60 to 70 mph before hitting even higher speeds on stretches of country road.
At one point, Teachout said, he used his cruiser to ram the Cadillac from behind. The video shows him ram the vehicle once. He then accelerates to ram it again, but the Cadillac speeds away.
At the intersection of routes 5 and 202 in Lyman, Hayden braked hard as he tried to turn into a restaurant driveway but missed the turn while still traveling at "up to 60 mph," Teachout said. The Cadillac ended up sliding into a ditch.
"At that point there was just a big mushroom cloud of dust and smoke," Teachout said.
He said he was the first officer to approach with his weapon up and aimed at the driver, who was yelling. "Within four to five seconds, there were other troopers on either side of the vehicle," he said.
Eventually, Hayden emerged with his hands up, Teachout said.
In other testimony Tuesday, the former deputy medical examiner for the state, Michael Ference, said his autopsies on both victims determined they died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Sandora had three bullet entry wounds, Ference said, one on the right side of her head that exited through her jaw, another through her belly and a third to her left arm.
Mills had a gunshot wound on the right side of his head, another to the right side of his neck and two shots to the chest.
State police crime scene investigators also testified that they collected three more bullets at the scene of the shooting, three brass shell casings from inside the house and six shell casings in the yard.
All the other testimony Tuesday was from police or state police crime lab workers regarding the collection of evidence and the chain of evidence as it was transferred to the crime lab.
Hayden remained silent, sitting between his attorneys, Clifford Strike and Sarah Churchill, who took turns questioning witnesses.
Testimony is expected to continue until the end of the week with Justice Nancy Mills presiding. Final arguments are expected either Friday or Monday, said Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber, who is prosecuting the case with Marchese.
This story was corrected Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. to better identify prosecutors.
Staff Writer Scott Dolan can be contacted at: 791-6304 or at