HOUTZDALE – Homicide charges were held to court after a preliminary hearing Tuesday for a state prison inmate accused of killing his cellmate.
In October, state police charged Jacob Michael Mitchell, 33, with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, assault by prisoner, strangulation, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person in connection with the death of Garrick Bloom at the state prison in Houtzdale.
Bloom,48, who had been convicted of multiple child rape charges, was found unresponsive in his cell at 11:03 p.m. on Aug. 29. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
A trooper described Bloom as having bruises all over his face and markings on his neck that indicated he had been choked by some sort of string.
District Attorney Ryan Sayers confirmed that bail was denied to Mitchell, who is eligible for parole from state prison in the Spring.
Because there didn’t appear to be any premeditation, Sayers said this would not be a death penalty case, but Mitchell could face a minimum of 17 to 20 years in prison with a maximum of 40 years.
District Judge James Glass presided over the hearing and sent the case on to the court of common pleas.
According to the affidavit filed with Glass’ office, Mitchell told investigators that he had been drinking alcohol all day and was “passed out in his bunk” when he was awakened by Bloom touching him inappropriately.
He reportedly explained he then jumped out of bed and began assaulting Bloom. He got Bloom on the ground and then Bloom bit him in the finger, causing him to go “into a rage.”
Mitchell stated he hit the call button for the guards as he was allegedly beating up Bloom and then hit him it again after he was done assaulting him. He told the guards, “I think he’s dead,” according to the complaint.
When asked at what point he strangled Bloom, he reportedly replied “I don’t know. I just snapped” and “I’m sure I was the cause of whatever happened from there.”
Officials were able to take photos of Mitchell’s hand, which was extremely swollen by the assault, police said.
Two of the corrections officers reported to police that Mitchell told them that he tied a string around Bloom’s neck in an attempt to hang Bloom and make it look like a suicide.