Con­victs prac­tised es­cape plan night be­fore prison break

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

One of two con­victed mur­der­ers who broke out of a max­i­mum-se­cu­rity prison last month told po­lice that they con­ducted a prac­tice run the night be­fore their dar­ing es­cape, even pok­ing their heads out of a man­hole be­fore de­cid­ing they were too close to nearby homes, a dis­trict at­tor­ney said.

Clin­ton County Dis­trict At­tor­ney An­drew Wylie said David Sweat, 35, told po­lice from his hos­pi­tal bed that he mas­ter­minded the June 6 break­out from Clin­ton Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity and be­gan work­ing on it in Jan­uary.

The es­cape by Sweat and 49-year-old Richard Matt launched a mas­sive 23-day man­hunt in forested north­ern New York ter­rain in­volv­ing more than 1,100 law en­force­ment of­fi­cers.

Matt was shot and killed by a bor­der pa­trol of­fi­cer June 26. Sweat was wounded Sun­day by a state trooper near the Cana­dian bor­der.

He was listed in fair con­di­tion Wed­nes­day.

Wylie said Sweat claimed he used only a hack­saw blade — not power tools, as of­fi­cials had re­ported — to cut holes in the steel walls of his and Richard Matt’s ad­join­ing cells as well as a steam pipe they crawled through.

Sweat said he prowled the tun­nels within the max­i­mum­se­cu­rity prison from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. — af­ter lights-out and be­fore the morn­ing head­count — in the days pre­ced­ing the es­cape, ac­cord­ing to Wylie, who was briefed by state po­lice on the sur­viv­ing in­mate’s state­ments.

Wylie said Sweat claimed to have done all the work him­self, say­ing the older Matt wasn’t in shape to do it.

Author­i­ties said the two reached the tun­nels via nar­row cor­ri­dors be­hind cell­blocks pro­vid­ing ac­cess to the bow­els of the prison and were given ac­cess by a cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer who has since been charged in con­nec­tion with the break­out.

On their prac­tice run be­fore the es­cape, the men poked their heads out of a man­hole but de­cided to exit the next day through a man­hole that was slightly more iso­lated.

Even then, it was in the mid­dle of an in­ter­sec­tion just a block from the prison walls.

Of­fi­cials have said a tai­lor shop em­ployee, Joyce Mitchell, got close to Sweat and Matt and supplied them with hack­saw blades and other tools.

She agreed to be their get­away driver but backed out at the last mo­ment, author­i­ties said. She has pleaded not guilty. The prison's su­per­in­ten­dent, his deputy and 10 other Clin­ton em­ploy­ees have been placed on leave.

AP PHOTO

Po­lice stand over David Sweat af­ter he was shot and cap­tured near the Cana­dian bor­der Sun­day.

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