Maine prisoner pleads not guilty to killing his cellmate


    Zachary Titus (Maine Department of Corrections)

    ROCKLAND (BDN) -- The Maine Department of Corrections inmate accused of killing his cellmate last June pleaded not guilty to murder during his first court hearing on Monday.

    Zachary Titus, 34, appeared in Knox County Superior Court for his arraignment, his first court appearance since he was indicted by a grand jury on Jan. 22. Titus is accused of killing Dana Bartlett while the two men were cellmates living in a four-man room at the Bolduc Correctional Facility, a minimum security facility in Warren.

    Dana Bartlett (Maine Department of Corrections)

    Justice Bruce Mallonee was specially assigned to preside over the case. Titus is being represented by Camden attorney Jeremy Pratt, while Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea is heading up the prosecution.

    A separate hearing will likely be held within the next 10 days to determine whether Titus will be eligible for bail, though no date was set at Monday’s hearing. Zainea pointed out that Titus is still in custody for a previous conviction.

    Titus, formerly of Thomaston, is being held in a close custody pod at the Maine State Prison in Warren, where he has about 18 months left to serve on a sentence for a theft conviction.

    With the alleged crime happening more than seven months ago, Pratt requested that the prosecution turn over any evidence they have against Titus before the 45 days Zainea said it would take to compile the evidence and give it to the defense through the discovery process.

    Zainea said she didn’t have all of the evidence yet but could send it over “piecemeal.”

    Bartlett died on June 24, 2018, though very little information about his death has been released by the Maine Department of Corrections or the Maine State Police. In early January, state police officials acknowledged that they were investigating Bartlett’s death as a homicide.

    Leading up to his death, Bartlett was afraid of his cellmates, according to former inmates who spoke with the Bangor Daily News. The men said that Bartlett asked a guard multiple times to move him to another cell, but the guard allegedly refused.

    Acting Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty, who was warden of the state prison at the time of Bartlett’s death, said an investigation by state corrections officials and Maine State Police found no indication that Bartlett asked to be moved because of safety concerns. An internal review concluded that prison policies and procedures were followed by corrections staff, he said.

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