The woman, who helped two state prisoners in their escape from Clinton Correctional Facility, has pleaded guilty. Joyce Mitchell admitted to promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation, as part of a plea deal in Clinton County Court. Geoff Redick reports.
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- Joyce Mitchell wants to move on with her life, -- that, according to district attorney Andrew Wylie. She will go to prison for at least the next 2 1/3 years. But the charges Mitchell avoided in Tuesday's deal are also compelling.
For 51-year-old Joyce Mitchell, Tuesday's court appearance marked the end of her prosecution. She pleaded guilty to both charges, for aiding Richard Matt and David Sweat in their prison escape; and in turn, Mitchell will not face any more charges.
"She wanted to expedite her case proceedings and move on," Wylie said.
The deal offered by district attorney Andrew Wylie, puts Mitchell in prison for 2 1/3 to 7 years. It also waives her right to appeal, and ensures she will cooperate with the current inspector general's investigation.
But the deal clears her of a possible "conspiracy to murder" charge -- even after Mitchell admitted that the escape plot included plans to kill her husband, Lyle.
"I cannot convict Joyce Mitchell just on her statements alone. And because of the facts that we had before us, to prove such a charge beyond a reasonable doubt would have been extremely difficult," Wylie said.
Joyce's husband Lyle Mitchell was in court Tuesday.
"He's upset, there's no question about it, but he's clearly been sticking behind his wife," said Stephen Johnston, the defense attorney.
Johnston says Mitchell now has great remorse for her part in the prison escape that turned into a dangerous, three-week manhunt.
"She got in over her head, in something that she never should have started. But she did. I think to a certain extent, Matt got her feeling good about herself, better than she had in a period of time and she was swept off her feet a bit," said Johnston.
Following court, Mitchell was carted back to county jail to await sentencing in September -- and the start of her own stay, on the other side of state prison bars.
The legal side of the prison break is far from over. Captured prisoner David Sweat is facing escape charges; his case will go before the grand jury in August.
Prison employee Gene Palmer is also accused of providing contraband for the escape. He has rejected a plea deal and will go through grand jury proceedings as well.
As of now, no other arrests are expected for the escape.