A prison employee who helped two convicted murderers escape from a maximum security prison in upstate New York in June will hear her sentence on Monday after pleading guilty to providing the inmates with tools and facilitating their daring break-out.
Joyce Mitchell, who worked as a supervisor at the tailor shop of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, faces up to seven years in prison after accepting a deal with prosecutors in which she admitted smuggling hacksaw blades and a screwdriver bit to help Richard Matt and David Sweat escape on June 6.
Mitchell, 51, has said she agreed to drive a getaway car for Matt and Sweat but at the last minute she had second thoughts about meeting the escapees as they emerged from a manhole outside the prison walls in the early morning hours.
"I had no intention of ever meeting them," Mitchell said in an interview with NBC's "Today" that aired earlier this month. "I'm just someone who got caught up in something she couldn't get out of."
After a three-week manhunt through the Adirondack Mountains, Matt, 49, was fatally shot by a federal agent on June 26 about 27 miles (43 km) away from the prison. Sweat, 35, was captured two days later about 2 miles (3 km) from the Canadian border.
Sweat had been scheduled to appear in Plattsburgh City Court on Tuesday to face felony escape charges, but his case was pulled from the docket, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said on Friday in an email, without elaborating.
Wylie declined to say whether Sweat and his assigned counsel, Joseph Mucia, were considering a possible plea deal with prosecutors.
Sweat, who was serving a life sentence without parole at Clinton Correctional, faces a $5,000 fine and up to seven years in prison on each of three felony charges.
A conviction on the escape charges would have led to more stringent conditions for Sweat at Five Points Correctional Facility, where he was transferred soon after his capture, Wylie said.
A second prison employee also faces charges in the escape. Correction officer Gene Palmer is accused of helping give contraband to the inmates and destroying evidence.
An investigation by the state inspector general's office is still underway.
Under the plea deal, Mitchell will not face any possible sexual assault or rape charges stemming from allegations that she had sexual relations with Matt or Sweat, Wylie said.