A convicted killer serving life behind bars when he staged a daring escape from a maximum-security prison has pleaded guilty to criminal charges for the breakout. In 35-year-old David Sweat's second court appearance since his capture in June, he no longer wore a sling, his head was shaved, and he made no statement. Sweat pleaded guilty to two felony counts of first-degree escape and a felony count of promoting prison contraband for possessing hacksaw blades used to cut his way out; each carries a sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years in prison. District Attorney Andrew Wylie said $79,841 in restitution will be sought from Sweat for repairs to the prison, jointly with former prison worker Joyce Mitchell.
The latter is in prison herself for helping Sweat and his accomplice, Richard Matt, break out of Clinton Correctional Facility in northern New York on June 6. (Matt was shot dead June 26; Sweat was shot and captured two days later.) In court, Sweat stood next to his lawyer and was ringed by five guards; he was unshackled at one wrist, sworn in, and answered "Yes, sir" and "No, sir" when Clinton County Court Judge Patrick McGill questioned him. Wylie also cautioned that Sweat can't profit from selling his story about the breakout and three-week manhunt, invoking the state's Son of Sam law that prohibits it. In related developments, the district attorney in Franklin County concluded Thursday that the shootings of the prisoners by officers were justified.