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New York Prison Escape

Clinton County Prosecutor Open to Prison Breakout Trial for David Sweat

Former Fugitive David Sweat Arrives at Courthouse 0:38

A convicted murderer who busted out of a New York prison was indicted Thursday on escape charges — and the prosecutor said the case could go to trial.

David Sweat could face a seven-year sentence if convicted of the new charges. He is already serving life without parole.

Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie said the fact that Sweat is a lifer has no bearing on his decision to bring a new case.

"He committed a crime in this county and I'm prosecuting him for that crime," Wylie told reporters after Sweat was arraigned.

The ex-fugitive — who spent 22 days on the run — appeared in court wearing a green prison jumpsuit with his arm in a sling, a vestige of the gunshot wound he sustained during his capture.

A plea of not guilty to three felonies — two counts of escape and a count of promoting contraband — was entered on his behalf by the judge.

Wylie said it is not clear if Sweat will ultimately plead guilty or force prosecutors to try him.

"We'll go whatever way we have to," he said, adding that an escape conviction could mean Sweat spends the rest of his days in a more restrictive environment.

He and fellow killer Richard Matt escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, near the Canadian border, on June 6 in a breakout that recalled the plot of "The Shawshank Redemption."

They used hacksaw blades to cut through their cells and get into the prison tunnel system, reaching the outside through a manhole.

Matt was killed during a capture attempt, while Sweat was wounded two days later.

His lawyer, Joseph Mucia, said he met with Sweat for an hour before the hearing.

"He was pretty subdued today. He was pretty calm. I think he was expecting that," Mucia said of the indictment.

Prison seamstress Joyce Mitchell has pleaded guilty to smuggling contraband that helped the inmates escape. In her confessions to police, she admitted she performed sexual acts on one of the men and sent X-rated selfies to the other.

She was supposed to flee with the inmates, who planned to kill her husband — but she reneged, she told police.