A Maine State Prison inmate has been charged with murder for the death of his cellmate, Dana Bartlett, in June of last year.
Zachary Titus, 34, was indicted by a Knox County grand jury on one count of murder Tuesday, but the indictment was sealed until Thursday. The case has been specially assigned to Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee, though Titus’ initial court appearance has not yet been scheduled, according to a court clerk.
At the time of Bartlett’s death, Titus and Bartlett were living together in a four-man room at the Bolduc Correctional Facility, according to former Maine State Prison warden and acting Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty. The Bolduc Correctional Facility is a minimum security work farm near the Maine State Prison in Warren.
For the past month, Titus has been housed in a close custody pod, where he will remain, Liberty said in an email.
Earlier this month, Maine State Police acknowledged that they were investigating Bartlett’s June 24, 2018, death as a homicide.
Leading up to his death, Bartlett, 28, was reportedly terrified of his cellmates, according to former inmates who spoke to the Bangor Daily News. 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.
However, Liberty said an internal investigation by the DOC and an investigation by the Maine State Police, found “no indication” that Bartlett asked to be removed from his cell because of safety concerns. An internal review concluded that prison policies and procedures were followed by corrections staff, he said.
Titus, formerly of Thomaston, is serving a two-year sentence for theft, according to Maine Department of Corrections records. His scheduled release date on the theft conviction is August 2020. Titus’ current sentence stems from a November 2017 theft from the Thomaston Walmart, according to court records.
Titus’ lengthy criminal record dates back to 2001, according to a history of convictions compiled by a Knox County prosecutors in the 2017 theft case file. His record includes two assault convictions along with multiple theft and convictions for violating conditions of release.
Prior to sentencing on the 2017 theft charge, Titus applied for admittance to the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center in Belfast, according to court documents. In a letter to the court, Titus wrote that the programs offered by the center, such as anger management, would help him from reoffending “and ending up back in jail.”
Bartlett’s death is the first homicide to occur at Bolduc Correctional Facility in at least a decade. The minimum-security facility is often the last stop for an inmate prior to release.
Bartlett was serving a 16-month sentence for theft and driving offenses at the time of his death.