A Thomaston man will have to serve eight more years in prison for the June 2018 death of another inmate at the prison farm in Warren.

Justice Bruce Mallonee sentenced 36-year-old Zachary Titus to 18 years in prison with all but eight years suspended during a June 4 hearing in Knox County Superior Court. Titus will then be on probation for four years upon his release.

Titus pled guilty Dec. 17 to manslaughter in exchange for dismissal of a murder charge in connection to the June 24, 2018, strangulation death of 28-year-old Dana R. Bartlett at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren.

The only issue to be settled June 4 was how much additional time Titus would spend in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea asked for Titus to serve 12 years, while defense attorneys Steven Peterson and Naomi Cohen asked for five years.

Justice Mallonee noted the manner how Bartlett died was horrible. He told Bartlett's family his sentence viewed him as a son and brother, not a prisoner who got into a fight.

Witnesses said Bartlett initiated the fight that ultimately led to his death. The judge rhetorically asked when do people let go when they are locked in a deadly embrace during a fight.

Titus spoke during the hearing, and said he often talked with Bartlett and Bartlett encouraged him to get his high school equivalency, which Titus later received.

"I'm sorry for the death of Dana. I wish I could have met him outside the Department of Corrections," Titus said.

The minimum mandatory sentence for murder in Maine is 25 years. The maximum sentence is life in prison. Manslaughter has a 30 year maximum sentence.

Zainea listed several aggravating factors. She pointed out the impact on the family of losing Bartlett, who was a son and brother. The prosecutor also cited the conscious suffering of Bartlett, who couldn't breathe, as Titus continued to keep him in a choke-hold.

The assistant attorney general said Titus has not shown remorse and denied involvement at the beginning.

Zaine said a final aggravating factor is Titus' criminal record, which includes gross sexual assault in 1999 and a domestic violence assault in 2009. Titus also has numerous lesser convictions including writing bad checks, burglary of a motor vehicle and drug possession.

Titus is also under investigation for trafficking in prison contraband at the Knox County Jail, the prosecutor said.

An affidavit filed by the state in court in February 2019 alleged a fight over stolen cigarettes led to the death. The affidavit by State Police Detective Joshua Birmingham stated witnesses said Titus put a choke hold on Bartlett during the fatal altercation.

Bartlett was housed at the Bolduc Correctional Facility in a room with three other inmates.

The affidavit stated Titus went to a corrections officer June 24, 2018, and said Bartlett needed help. The officer performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and administered Narcan to Bartlett, as is part of the emergency response, not knowing what occurred. The officer and emergency medical services personnel from Warren and Waldoboro were unable to revive Bartlett.

Titus and the other two roommates were strip-searched and their clothing was taken by prison staff immediately after the death occurred. Titus had scratches and bruises on his body, but the other two inmates did not, according to the police report. Staff also seized a wristwatch worn by Titus.

Bartlett had a large scratch under his chin.

A recorded telephone call from earlier in the day revealed Titus accused Bartlett of stealing cigarettes from one of the roommates. Titus also said he and Bartlett got into a fight a few days earlier, where Bartlett punched Titus in the mouth, according to the affidavit.

Investigators reviewed surveillance videos of the hallway where Bartlett, Titus and the other two inmates lived. It showed Bartlett entering the room, then several minutes later the other roommates leaving the room. Four minutes later, Titus left the room and goes into the bathroom, and a red-brown stain can be seen on his T-shirt. He can also been seen looking at his fingernails, according to the affidavit.

One of the roommates, Joshua Welch, told investigators when he returned to the room after a smoke break, he saw Bartlett's lifeless body on the floor, and Titus told him Bartlett "just came at me and I choked him out." Welch said as he left the room, Titus was trying to wake up Bartlett.

The other roommate, Robert Payzant, told investigators he witnessed Titus and Bartlett get into a fight, and Titus put Bartlett in a sleeper hold. Payzant claimed when he left, Bartlett was snoring, according to the affidavit.

A DNA test of Titus' watch found blood DNA from Bartlett on it.

Titus was serving a two-year prison term for felony theft at the time of Bartlett's death, having begun his sentence in March 2018. That two-year sentence was completed in September 2020, and bail was no longer a moot point. He continues to be held without bail after waiving his right to a bail hearing.

His last residence before prison was Beechwood Street in Thomaston, according to court records.

Prior to his sentencing in 2018 for theft and criminal trespass at Wal-Mart, Titus sought admission to the Maine Coastal Regional Re-entry Center in Belfast.

He wrote a letter to the court asking to be allowed into the center, saying he thought programs such as for substance abuse and anger management could help him from committing new offenses.

"I also would like to attend bible studies and church when available to maintain my spirituality," Titus stated in his letter.

Bartlett was sentenced in March 2018 in Androscoggin Superior Court to 16 months in prison for driving a motor vehicle, after his license was revoked as a habitual offender. He lived in Lewiston.

Back in August 2018, Jason Palmiter, who was released July 6, said he spoke with Bartlett the day he died, and that Bartlett went to a corrections officer and asked to be moved to another cell, because he was being threatened. Other people in his cell suspected him of stealing cigarettes, according to Palmiter.

Bartlett then voiced concern to Palmiter, commenting that the guard did not seem concerned and did nothing, Palmiter said.