PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — A convicted killer already serving life behind bars was ordered Wednesday to pay restitution and sentenced to additional prison time for his daring escape last year from a maximum-security prison in northern New York.
David Sweat was shot and captured in June near the Canadian border after a three-week manhunt. On Wednesday, he was shackled and surrounded by guards in Clinton County Court as he apologized for scaring people in the community, some who left their homes.
"That was never my intent, and I deeply apologize for that,'" he said.
Judge Patrick McGill ordered the 35-year-old to pay $79,841 in restitution and serve 3 1/2 to seven years in prison for the escape and a similar consecutive sentence for prison contraband. Sweat pleaded guilty in November to three charges. McGill said Sweat made "stupid choices."
Sweat was already serving life in prison without parole for murdering a Broome County sheriff's deputy in 2002 following the burglary of a Pennsylvania gun shop.
He and inmate Richard Matt cut their way out of Clinton Correctional Facility with saws that a prison worker smuggled to them. Joyce Mitchell, a former civilian employee in the prison tailor shop who befriended the men, is now in prison.
District Attorney Andrew Wylie said Sweat tried to withdraw his guilty plea, telling McGill in his chambers that the escape was prompted by duress and threats against him in the prison, which would be a possible trial defense.
Sweat is now at Five Points Correctional Facility, where he's expected to spend six years isolated in special housing, the prosecutor said.
"We need to send a message to people who escape from state prisons, not only around the state but around the country, and that the appropriate prosecutions and sentencing need to be imposed," Wylie said.
Should Sweat be paid for an interview or otherwise come into money, the state would claim it for restitution for damage to the prison, Wylie said. If the federal or state courts sometime reject life without parole as a punishment, Wednesday's sentences would then be available, he said.
Defense attorney Joe Mucia said Sweat plans to appeal. He said it's "very excessive" to order nearly $80,000 in restitution from an inmate getting $6 a week from a prison job.
Sweat was offered an opportunity to restate his case, denied by the judge in chambers, for withdrawing the guilty pleas in open court but chose not to, the attorney said.