New York prison worker pleads guilty to helping 2 convicted killers in their elaborate escape

A U.S. prison worker pleaded guilty Tuesday to smuggling hacksaw blades in frozen hamburger meat to two killers who later broke out in a brazen, elaborate escape that captured the world’s attention for more than two weeks.

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — A U.S. prison worker pleaded guilty Tuesday to smuggling hacksaw blades in frozen hamburger meat to two killers who later broke out in a brazen, elaborate escape that captured the world’s attention for more than two weeks.

Joyce Mitchell, a tailor shop instructor at Clinton Correctional Facility in northern New York state, was jailed shortly after the intricately staged June 6 escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat. Matt was shot and killed by searchers June 26, about 30 miles west of the prison; Sweat was captured near the Canadian border two days later and sent to another prison.

Mitchell, 51, faces a sentence of 2 1/3 years to 7 years in prison under terms of a plea deal with prosecutors. Sentencing is set for Sept. 28. Her lawyer said his client won’t be able to post the bail set by the judge at $100,000 cash or $200,000 bond.

Corrections officials said Tuesday that Mitchell, who was arrested June 12, resigned from her job about two weeks later.

She admitted providing hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch tool and a screwdriver to Matt. Authorities say she became close to the pair, agreed to be their getaway driver and even discussed killing her husband. But she backed out at the last moment, forcing Matt and Sweat to flee on foot after they emerged from a manhole near the maximum-security prison.

Defence attorney Stephen Johnston said Mitchell “got in over her head.”

“I think that to a certain extent Matt got her to feeling good about herself, better than she had for a period of time, and she was swept off her feet a bit, for a period,” Johnston said. “And then when she realized who she was dealing with everything changed.”

Investigators also said Mitchell had discussed killing her husband, Lyle Mitchell, as part of the plot.

Lyle Mitchell was in court Tuesday and declined to speak with an Associated Press reporter afterward.

Authorities said she smuggled the hacksaw blades and other tools into the prison by hiding them in frozen meat she placed in a refrigerator in the tailor shop. They said a corrections officer then took the meat to Sweat and Matt, who were housed in a section where inmates are allowed to cook their meals.

Authorities do not believe the officer knew of the escape plan. He was released on bail after being arrested on charges including promoting prison contraband.

Investigators do not think knowledge of the plot went beyond Matt, Sweat and Mitchell.

Authorities say Matt and Sweat cut through their adjoining cell walls over months, climbed down catwalks to tunnels, broke through a brick wall, cut into and out of a steam pipe and cut a chain holding a manhole cover outside the prison to get away.

Sweat, 35, was serving a life sentence without parole in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy. Matt, who turned 49 on Thursday, was doing 25 years to life in the kidnapping, torture and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss.

Just Posted

Hospitalizations jump in Red Deer due to opioid poisonings

Small city hospitals impacted more by opioid crisis

Central Alberta councils learn more about Bighorn Country proposal

A collection of central Alberta politicians are learning more about the province’s… Continue reading

High-speed chase led to fatal collision, jury hears

A Delburne man accused of manslaughter caused a fatal rollover collision during… Continue reading

‘Part of the solution:’ Alberta seeks proposals to build new refinery

EDMONTON — Alberta is looking for someone to build a new oil… Continue reading

Online ads spoil Christmas surprises, raising privacy concerns: experts

Lisa Clyburn knew she had found the perfect gift for her nine-year-old… Continue reading

Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Adriana Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male… Continue reading

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

TORONTO — Canada Soccer has named striker Jordyn Huitema and defender Derek… Continue reading

Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse

You might be forgiven for feeling superhero overload this holiday season. Had… Continue reading

‘Modern Family’s’ Sarah Hyland had second kidney transplant

LOS ANGELES — “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland says she had a… Continue reading

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Most Read