AUGUSTA — Timothy S. Danforth of Jay will spend six years in prison for fatally shooting Michael Reis in June 2016 in a dispute over a $200 marijuana debt, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The sentence for the 26-year-old former Wilton man was imposed Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center.

Reis, 24, of New Sharon, was with half a dozen people who went to the Weld Road home of Robert Danforth — Timothy Danforth’s father — regarding a $200 marijuana debt owed by an 18-year-old to Robert Danforth.

The defense said the people brought a baseball bat, golf clubs, wrenches and brass knuckles with them.

During the hearing Wednesday, Danforth stood at the defense table and spoke directly to the 18 friends and family member of Reis, while also apologizing to his family members, including his wife, who were sitting in the courtroom.

“First of all I am sincerely sorry for the loss that you guys are feeling,” Danforth said to the Reis family. “I know nothing I say will bring Michael back or take away any of the feelings you have for me, but I hope in some way it will give you some sort of closure.”


“I honestly wish that night had never happened. I wish I had stayed away from my father,” he said.

Danforth pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge April 2 in the same courthouse, and attorneys outlined the recommended sentence — 15 years with a cap of six years to be served and the rest suspended. He will serve four years of probation after he is released.

Superior Court Justice William Stokes said he determined that anything less than the full six years would diminish the gravity of the offense, bringing a sigh of relief from the Reis family.

Stokes decided on the six years of incarceration Wednesday, after hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defense.

The justice also told Danforth he had a right to appeal the sentence.

Danforth, in dark-rimmed glasses and a gray suit, walked into the courthouse with family members and friends. He has been free on bail since December 2016 and was taken into custody immediately following the hearing.


Friends and family of Reis also attended Wednesday’s hearing, and several people addressed the judge, many of them declining to appear on camera.

As they spoke, some cried.

Joe Bissonnette of New Sharon read aloud a statement on behalf of himself and his wife, who raised Michael Reis. “Michael was always the protector. He would always insert himself in a situation to save his friends,” Bissonnette said. “I know he would do it again in an instant; Michael was wired that way.”

He asked that Danforth serve the full six years in prison.

Outside the courthouse after the hearing, Bissonnette said he wanted to thank Stokes. “We feel he was very fair.” Bissonnette also thanked the prosecutor, the investigators and others for their work.

“It’s a senseless tragedy,” he said. ” It should never have happened.”


At the hearing, Jonathan Reis described his twin brother as “strong-willed and headstrong,” but added,”Michael was anything but not an attacker.”

He added, “If you think for a minute that this man was acting in self-defense, well then you don’t know Michael Reis. This man acted in a negligent and reckless manner. If it can happen over something as petty a small bag of weed, then it can happen again.”

“Mike was my best friend. He was my brother,” Joel Kreitzman said at the hearing. “I know that if Mike were here with us alive today, Mike would forgive you, Tim. But you took that chance away from him.”

Danforth had initially been charged with murder, and a trial in Franklin County ended with a mistrial after jurors were deadlocked 11-2.

The case was moved to Kennebec County for a retrial; however, Danforth opted to plead to the lesser charge of manslaughter with the agreed-upon sentencing recommendation. The maximum penalty for manslaughter is 30 years in prison.

“It’s tragic in so many ways,” Stokes said. He said he recognized that Danforth “made some very bad choices but wasn’t the prime mover of this series of events.”


Stokes said Reis – following his nature — went to check on a friend.

Stokes also reminded those in the courtroom that the full sentence is 15 years, and he noted that the families of both men were victims in this case.

At the trial, Danforth’s attorneys argued that the shooting was in self-defense, defense of his property and defense of others.

In a motion filed with the court, defense attorney Jeffrey Wilson of Paris wrote that Reis had “rushed from the blind side of the trailer and attacked the Danforths as they stood on their front porch. Mr. Reis did not stop his attack even after Mr. Danforth tried to stop Mr. Reis with shotgun shots to Mr. Reis’ foot and knee. The only thing that stopped Mr. Reis was a shot to the shoulder. Mr. Reis died from loss of blood on the way to the hospital.”

Danforth did not testify at his trial, and did not address the judge at the plea hearing except to answer questions about whether the plea was voluntary and in his best interest.

At the sentencing hearing, Wilson noted that Danforth had very little criminal record and that he was influenced by his father, who was “in and out of mental institutions.”


Wilson suggested an initial period of three years in prison rather than the full six years sought by the state.

After the sentencing, Danforth’s other attorney, Sarah Glynn of Paris, said the case was tragic for both young men. “Neither one had a dog in the fight, but they got wrapped into it.”

At the plea hearing, the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bud” Ellis, outlined the state’s case against Timothy Danforth, saying a gun-toting Timothy Danforth told Trevon Goodwin a day previously that he wanted to beat up Zachary Uhlman, who apparently owed the drug debt.

Ellis said there were threatening comments made in an ongoing battle of text messages between Robert Danforth and supporters of Uhlman.

Ellis said Timothy Danforth was aware of the dispute and that weapons were placed around the Danforth home showing preparation. Ellis said he thought the initial six years behind bars is appropriate.

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Ellis said after the hearing, “primarily for the Reis family, because they’ll never see Michael again.”

Timothy Danforth, 26, of Jay is sentenced Wednesday at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta to six years in prison for manslaughter in the shooting death of Michael Reis of New Sharon in 2016. (Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal)

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