The Latest on NY prison escape: Worker pleads not guilty

AP News
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Posted: Jun 12, 2015 11:54 PM
The Latest on NY prison escape: Worker pleads not guilty

11:30 p.m. (EDT)

A northern New York prison worker accused of helping two killers escape last weekend has pleaded not guilty.

Court-appointed defense attorney Keith Bruno said Friday he'll make arguments on Monday after having time to speak with prison tailor shop instructor Joyce Mitchell.

Mitchell is accused of befriending inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora and giving them contraband.

Her hands were cuffed in front of her and she stared straight ahead while she was arraigned Friday night in Plattsburgh on charges of felony promoting prison contraband and misdemeanor criminal facilitation. She looked scared and didn't speak. She was ordered jailed on $100,000 cash bail.

The inmates used power tools to cut through their cell walls and a steam pipe and escaped through a manhole a week ago. Police say they won't stop searching until the escapees are captured.

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11:15 p.m. (EDT)

A northern New York prison worker accused of helping two killers escape last weekend looked scared and didn't speak during her arraignment.

Prison tailor shop instructor Joyce Mitchell is accused of befriending inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora and giving them contraband.

Mitchell's hands were cuffed in front of her and she stared straight ahead while she was arraigned Friday night in Plattsburgh on charges of felony promoting prison contraband and misdemeanor criminal facilitation. She was ordered jailed on $100,000 cash bail.

Mitchell's family has said she would not have helped the convicts break out.

Mitchell has another court appearance scheduled for Monday. Her court-appointed attorney says he'll make arguments then after having time to speak with her.

Police say they won't stop looking for the escaped inmates.

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11:05 p.m. (EDT)

A northern New York prison worker accused of helping two killers escape last weekend has been arraigned.

Prison tailor shop instructor Joyce Mitchell is accused of befriending inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora and giving them contraband.

Mitchell was arraigned Friday night in Plattsburgh on charges of promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation. Promoting prison contraband is a felony, criminal facilitation is a misdemeanor.

Mitchell's family has said she would not have helped the convicts break out.

District Attorney Andrew Wylie says the investigation continues.

State police say they won't stop searching until the escapees are caught.

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7:35 p.m. (EDT)

An upstate New York prison worker accused of helping two killers escape last weekend has been suspended without pay.

Prison tailor shop instructor Joyce Mitchell is accused of befriending inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora and giving them contraband. She has been arrested. Authorities say she'll be arraigned on charges of promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation.

Mitchell's husband has not been charged.

The state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision says Mitchell has been suspended without pay effective Friday. Mitchell earned about $58,000 a year.

Mitchell's family has said she would not have helped the convicts break out.

District Attorney Andrew Wylie says the investigation continues and there could be more charges.

State police say they're getting closer to the escapees with every step they take on the ground and in the investigation.

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7 p.m. (EDT)

New York state police say they're getting closer to two killers who escaped from prison by cutting through walls and pipes last weekend.

Hundreds of officers are combing the area around the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora looking for David Sweat and Richard Matt.

Maj. Charles Guess says officers are getting closer with every step they take on the ground and in the investigation.

He says while searchers are contending with bad weather so are Sweat and Matt. He says if they haven't escaped the area around the prison or found shelter "they've got to be cold, wet, tired and hungry."

His message to them: "We're coming for you, and we will not stop until you are caught."

A prison tailor shop employee has been accused of helping the inmates escape. Her family says she wouldn't have done that.

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6:45 p.m. (EDT)

An upstate New York district attorney says investigations are ongoing into other charges that could be filed against a prison worker accused of helping two killers escape.

Prison tailor shop worker Joyce Mitchell is accused of befriending inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora and giving them contraband. She has been arrested. Authorities say she will be arraigned on charges of promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation. Promoting prison contraband is a felony, criminal facilitation is a misdemeanor.

Mitchell's husband has not been charged.

District Attorney Andrew Wylie says the investigation continues.

Mitchell's family has said she would not have helped the convicts break out.

Law enforcement officers continue to search for the escapees, concentrating Friday in a rural area near the prison.

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5:50 p.m. (EDT)

A worker at an upstate New York maximum-security prison has been arrested on charges she helped two convicted killers escape.

State police say Joyce Mitchell will be arraigned on charges of promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation. Promoting prison contraband is a felony, criminal facilitation is a misdemeanor.

Mitchell is accused of befriending inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora and giving them contraband.

District Attorney Andrew Wylie said earlier the contraband didn't include power tools used by the men as they cut holes in their cell walls and a steam pipe to escape through a manhole last weekend.

Law enforcement officers continue to search for the escapees, concentrating Friday in a rural area near the prison.

Mitchell's family has said she wouldn't have helped the convicts break out.

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3:20 p.m. (EDT)

Authorities say an additional 300 law enforcement officers are now searching for two escaped New York convicts who have been on the run since breaking out of a maximum-security prison last weekend.

State police say the number of officers involved in Friday's search in northern New York has climbed from about 500 to more than 800, including personnel from state, local and federal agencies. Officials say the added help is needed to give search teams proper rest.

The search for murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt is now focused on an area a few miles south of the village of Dannemora, where the pair cut their way out of their neighboring cells in Clinton Correctional Facility.

Troopers say more than 700 leads have been received since the breakout was discovered early Saturday morning.

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11:10 a.m. (EDT)

Law enforcement officers searching for two escaped New York convicts are focusing on a rural area after residents reported seeing two men jumping a stone wall.

State troopers lined a rural road outside Dannemora on Friday morning. It's the seventh day of searching for escaped murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt, who cut their way out of their cells at a maximum-security prison.

The new search area is just southwest of some wooded, swampy landscape along Route 374 that police combed through Thursday after investigators got leads that the convicts were in that area. Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie tells the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh that search dogs picked up the convicts' scent Wednesday night and traced it from outside a convenience store and gas station through the woods east of Dannemora.

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9:20 a.m. (EDT)

A prosecutor says a prison employee provided contraband to the two murderers who cut their way out of a maximum-security prison in northern New York last weekend.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Friday morning that Joyce Mitchell gave David Sweat and Richard Matt illegal items. Wylie says he won't provide details about the contraband, but he said it wasn't the power tools the convicts used to make their escape last weekend from their neighboring cells at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora.

Mitchell hasn't been charged.

Mitchell was a supervisor in the prison tailor shop, where Sweat and Matt worked. A person close to the case told The Associated Press that investigators believe she had agreed to be the getaway driver, but she never showed up. The person was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

— Associated Press writer Michael Virtanen contributed to this report.

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7:20 a.m. (EDT)

Squads of law enforcement officers are heading out for a seventh day of searching for two murderers who escaped from a maximum-security prison in northern New York.

Armed officers in body armor started boarding New York state prison system buses soon after dawn Friday in the village of Dannemora, where David Sweat and Richard Matt used power tools to cut their way out of their neighboring cells last weekend. They remain at large.

The hundreds of state, federal and local officers conducting the search spent Thursday slogging through a swampy patch of woods just east of Dannemora after investigators had received tips that the convicts were in the area. Tracking dogs had picked up the scent in the morning.

State Route 374, the main road leading into Dannemora, remains closed for a second day, as does the local school district.

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6:45 a.m. (EDT)

The rugged northern New York terrain being searched for two escaped murderers presents major challenges to anyone who ventures into the Adirondack woods.

Experts say if escapees David Sweat and Richard Matt are in the wooded, swampy area just east of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, they're enduring two of the region's warm-weather nuisances: swarms of biting insects.

Curt Stager, a biology professor at Paul Smith's College in the Adirondacks, tells the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh (https://bitly.com/shorten) that black flies come out during the day while mosquitoes are just as prevalent at night.

The hundreds of law enforcement officers attempting to catch the escapees are encountering the same conditions as they slog through streams and swamps in the search area, located near the Adirondack Park's northeastern boundary about 20 miles south of the Canadian border.

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This story has been corrected to show criminal facilitation is a misdemeanor.