Wednesday 7 December 2016

US prison escapee shot and killed this evening after three weeks on the run

Published 26/06/2015 | 22:18

Richard Matt escaped from jail
Richard Matt escaped from jail

One of two convicted killers who escaped from a New York maximum security prison has been shot and killed.

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Richard Matt has been killed and David Sweat is still on the run, officials said.

Convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt escaped from the maximum security prison using power tools and going through a manhole. Photo: Getty Images
Convicted murderers David Sweat (L) and Richard Matt escaped from the maximum security prison using power tools and going through a manhole. Photo: Getty Images
Richard Matt (L) and David Sweat are pictured in this combination of undated handout photos released by the New York State Police
A photograph issued by the New York Governor’s office shows where the two convicted murderers used power tools to cut through steel pipes to make their escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in New York state
Two law enforcement officers make their way across a lawn and onto Pleasant Street on Wednesday, in Dannemora, New York. Photo: AP

Matt and Sweat used power tools to saw through a steel cell wall and several steel steam pipes, made a hole through a 2-foot-thick brick wall and escaped early on June 6 from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border.

Sweat was serving a sentence of life without parole in the killing of a sheriff's deputy in Broome County in 2002. Matt was serving 25 years to life for the killing and dismembering of his former boss.

A prison guard and a prison tailor shop instructor have been accused of helping the inmates escape.

Prosecutors said Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailoring shop instructor who got close to the men while working with them, had agreed to be their getaway driver but backed out because she felt guilty for participating. Mitchell pleaded not guilty June 15 to charges including felony promoting prison contraband.

Authorities said the men had filled their beds in their adjacent cells with clothes to make it appear they were sleeping when guards made overnight rounds. On a cut steam pipe, the prisoners left a taunting note containing a crude caricature of an Asian face and the words "Have a nice day".

Clinton County chief prosecutor Andrew Wylie said they apparently used tools stored by prison contractors, taking care to return them to their toolboxes after each night's work.

Authorities also said Mitchell had discussed killing her husband, Lyle Mitchell, as part of the plot.

"Joyce Mitchell tells us that was discussed between her and Matt and that upon their escape they were going to return back to Joyce Mitchell's home at which time Matt and Sweat were going to kill her husband," Mr Wylie said.

Lyle Mitchell's lawyer, Peter Dumas, said his client was shocked by word of the plot and that Joyce Mitchell had told her husband she could not go through with it and the inmates threatened to harm him.

On June 24, authorities charged Clinton correction officer Gene Palmer with promoting prison contraband, tampering with physical evidence and official misconduct. Officials said he gave the two prisoners the frozen hamburger meat Joyce Mitchell had used to hide the tools she smuggled to Sweat and Matt. Palmer's lawyer said he had no knowledge that the meat contained hacksaw blades, a bit and a screwdriver.

Dannemora, built in 1845, occupies just over 1 square mile within the northern reaches of the Adirondack Forest Preserve and is surrounded by forest and farmland. The stark white perimeter wall of the prison, topped with guard towers, borders a main street in the village's business district.

The escape was the first in history from Clinton Correctional's maximum-security portion. In July 2003, two convicted murderers used tools from a carpentry shop at Elmira Correctional Facility to dig a hole in the roof of their cell and a rope of bedsheets to go over the wall. They were captured within three days, and a subsequent state investigation cited lax inmate supervision, poor tool control and incomplete cell searches.

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