Fugitive’s lover could be in prison 7 years

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Fugitive’s lover could be in prison 7 years.

Joyce Mitchell, the prison seamstress believed to be romantically interested in at least one of the prisoners, smuggled tools in hamburger meat that the prisoners used in an incredible “Shawshank Redemption” style escape. PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. • A remorseful, tearful former prison worker who helped two convicted murderers escape from a maximum-security lockup by providing them with tools was sentenced Monday to up to seven years behind bars. Mitchell, 51, pleaded guilty in July in a deal that allowed her to sidestep charges for an alleged plot to kill her husband and for any sexual contact with Sweat and Matt. Prosecutors also want $120,000 to cover the cost of damage done to the Clinton Correctional Facility when the two prisoners tunneled through walls and pipes to escape. Sobbing throughout the court appearance, Joyce Mitchell begged Judge Kevin Ryan of Clinton County Supreme Court in Plattsburgh, N.Y., for forgiveness, saying she never intended to cause anyone harm in the June 6 escape.

Even though the actual sentence was already set as part of the plea bargain, Mitchell suggested to the judge that he might go easier on her, suggesting she would wear an ankle bracelet for the rest of her life. The felony contraband charge carries a sentence of 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison, but Mitchell’s lawyer has said she is unlikely to be locked up for more than four years with time off for good behavior. She pleaded guilty July 28 to two charges in connection with her efforts to help Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from the state prison in Dannemora, N.Y., near the Canadian border. “If I could take it all back, I would,” Mitchell said, reading a two-page handwritten note on yellow paper. “I am still trying to acknowledge my actions and understand why I did what I did.” The escape led to a three-week manhunt through the Adirondacks that ended with Matt being shot and killed and Sweat being captured. Mitchell entered the courtroom in tears and continued to cry throughout most of the 35-minute sentencing, and even removed her glasses to wipe her eyes. Ryan noted that he had received letters from the public urging him to give Mitchell a stiffer sentence and explained she was getting the maximum for the charge in her plea.

She apologized to the community, her former co-workers and the law enforcement officers for the weeks of fear, disruption and inconvenience the search caused. In an exclusive interview with TODAY, Mitchell said the two men — both serving life for murder — wanted her to meet them after the escape with a getaway car. “I was supposed to come up and park by the manhole that they were gonna be coming out of. Mitchell’s lawyer objected to the sum, which will be the subject of a hearing at a later date — and he also suggested that Matt and Sweat may have had other accomplices who have not been caught. “I believe there was other assistance somehow provided to these men,” the defense lawyer. She had a intimate relationship with Matt and sneaked hacksaw blades and other tools to the pair to help their escape through thick walls and metal pipes.

Mitchell was expected to be the escapees’ getaway driver, but she said she expected the inmates, both convicted murderers, would kill her if she showed up with a car that June 6 morning. “They would have had the vehicle. They wouldn’t have needed me,” Mitchell said in a teary-eyed interview with NBC Today host Matt Lauer that aired Sept. 18. “I had no intention of ever showing up.” Mitchell said she was afraid to stop aiding the men’s escape, which included a plot to give her husband pills to drug him and ultimately have the murderers kill him. “I knew I was in so far that I had to just keep going along with it,” she said. “So when Mr. I’m just somebody that got caught up in something she couldn’t get out of.” Officials said the convicts used tools to cut their way out of their adjacent cells and get into the catwalk between the cell block walls. A prison guard, Gene Palmer, who authorities have said unwittingly abetted the escape plot, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of promoting prison contraband.

In exchange, she will waive her right to appeal and will cooperate with the continued investigation into the prison break. “Because the evidence was so overwhelming … she wanted to expedite her case proceedings and move on with the matter,” Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told reporters outside the court

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