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

Red Deer’s Joe Hittel raises $20,000-plus for the Make-A-Wish Foundation

The 84-year-old will rappel down the 12-storey Stantec building July 20

Drugs, cash seized in drug bust in Red Deer

Red Deer RCMP, along with other police agencies in central Alberta have… Continue reading

Mother sperm whale and baby dead in fishing net off Italy

MILAN — A mother sperm whale and its baby have died after… Continue reading

New Canadian law takes aim at dog fighting

Central Alberta agencies applaud changes

VIDEO: Avengers: Endgame to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

Alberta finance minister won’t guarantee delayed union arbitration will occur

EDMONTON — Alberta’s finance minister won’t promise that 180,000 public sector workers… Continue reading

Elections Canada scraps social media ‘influencers’ to encourage youth vote

OTTAWA — Elections Canada has scrapped plans to use social-media “influencers” to… Continue reading

Quebec’s biggest French school board postpones applying religious symbols law

MONTREAL — Quebec’s largest school board has voted to delay application of… Continue reading

B.C. Conservative MP Mark Warawa dies after cancer diagnosis

OTTAWA — Conservative MP Mark Warawa has died after being diagnosed with… Continue reading

Trump promises help with Canadian detainees in China as Trudeau visits D.C.

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump says he will raise the issue… Continue reading

VIDEO: Avengers: Endgame to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

‘He gets it’: Bowen Byram set to hear name called early at NHL draft

VANCOUVER — Bowen Byram’s bantam coach knew almost immediately the defenceman would… Continue reading

Guardado scores 2 as Mexico beats Canada 3-1

DENVER — Andres Guardado had two goals in the second half, Roberto… Continue reading

Most Read