PORTLAND — A defense attorney for Rondon Athayde argued Wednesday during an appeal hearing that Athayde’s 2021 murder conviction should be overturned due to questions over the cause of death and Athayde’s state of mind when making incriminating statements to police.

Rondon Athayde enters Oxford County Superior Court in Paris for sentencing in the 2018 murder of his girlfriend. Christopher Williams/Sun Journal file photo

Athayde was convicted of murdering his longtime girlfriend Ana Cordero at their Hartford home in 2018 while their two daughters were in the house. The 2021 trial involved two days of testimony that included Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, who said Cordero had suffered at least 43 blows from a metal rod.

Athayde was sentenced to 50 years in prison in September.

During the appeal hearing Wednesday, defense attorney Rory McNamara honed in on testimony from the medical examiner that said Cordero’s death was the result of both new and old injuries. He argued that while there was no doubt Athayde’s actions ultimately led to her death, he does not believe she would have died if it had not been for previous injuries, and he said there was not sufficient evidence that Athayde was responsible for the previous injuries.

Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber said Cordero had lost two-thirds of her blood as a result of Athayde’s beating the night of her death, which would have been “more than fatal.”

Macomber said there was evidence that Athayde beat Cordero on several occasions, and said “there’s no question” from the medical examiner’s report that it was the cause of death.


“Do you really think it would make a difference with a jury in this case?” he asked. “Can you say that with a straight face?”

McNamara argued that the beating was “the final cause but not the sole cause” of death, and said while there was evidence of prior fights in the record, there was “no rational evidence in the record that he caused the underlying chronic issues.”

During the 2021 trial, defense attorney Clifford Strike urged the jury to find his client guilty of manslaughter instead of murder.

Macomber said that from the moment police arrived on scene, Athayde took responsibility for Cordero’s murder.

“He told detectives he did it,” he said. “He told them they had fought before.”

As part of the appeal, the defense also questioned Athayde’s state of mind when making incriminating statements to police just after Cordero’s death. McNamara said Athayde said he hadn’t slept in 36 hours, felt sick and was “incoherent.”


During the trial, the court determined that statements he made to law enforcement while walking them through his home were voluntary and a motion to suppress the statements was denied.

Chief Justice Valerie Stanfill, who presided over the hearing, said the oral arguments will be taken under advisement, and a written decision will be issued “in due course.”

Cordero was murdered Dec. 13, 2018, at the home she and Athayde shared at 62 Bear Mountain Road.

When administering the sentence last year, Justice William Stokes called the “brutal” and “extraordinarily violent” domestic violence assault an “abomination,” adding that the images of 41-year-old 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.

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