ROCKLAND, Maine ― The prisoner who killed his cellmate at the Bolduc Correctional Center in 2018 following a fight over cigarettes will be sentenced next week.
Zachary Titus, 36, formerly of Thomaston pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter in December. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 4 at 9 a.m. at the Knox County Courthouse in Rockland.
Titus was charged with murder for the June 24, 2018, death of Dana Bartlett, but he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, a lesser charge, in a plea deal.
As part of that agreement, Titus will likely receive a maximum sentence of 18 years in prison with all but 12 years suspended, prosecutors said at the December hearing. His attorney can argue for a shorter prison sentence at the hearing.
On the afternoon of June 24, Bartlett and Titus got into a fight about cigarettes, which escalated into a physical altercation, according to two other cellmates. One of the men said he witnessed Titus put Bartlett in a “sleeper hold” and the other told police when he returned to the cell from a smoke break that Bartlett was “lifeless” on the floor and Titus was trying to wake him up, according to court documents.
An autopsy conducted the morning after Bartlett’s death concluded that the cause of death was strangulation and that the manner of death was a homicide. Bartlett’s DNA was found on Titus’ shirt and wristwatch.
Leading up to his death, Bartlett was reportedly terrified of his cellmates, according to former inmates who spoke to the Bangor Daily News following Bartlett’s death. They said Bartlett asked a guard multiple times to move him to another cell in the hours before he died. The guard allegedly refused to move him.
Maine Department of Corrections officials have maintained that an investigation found “no indication” that Bartlett asked to be removed from his cell because of safety concerns.
At the time of the killing, Titus was serving a two-year sentence for theft. He was transferred from the Bolduc Correctional Center to the neighboring Maine State Prison, where he was held in a high security unit.
Titus completed his sentence for theft in September and was transferred to the Knox County Jail, where he continues to be held without bail.