New York - A convicted killer serving life behind bars when he staged a daring escape from a maximum-security prison was arraigned Thursday on new criminal charges in his first court appearance since his capture after more than three weeks on the run.
David Sweat, shackled and with his right arm in a sling, was brought to court from the special housing unit at Five Points Correctional Facility, where he's been kept in a solitary cell for 23 hours a day. A judge entered not-guilty pleas for Sweat on two felony counts of first-degree escape and a felony count of promoting prison contraband for possessing hacksaw blades.
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Sweat escaped June 6 from Clinton Correctional Facility with fellow inmate Richard Matt, also a convicted killer. Matt was shot dead June 26, and Sweat was shot and captured two days later, ending a 23-day manhunt.
During the brief court appearance, Sweat gave one-word answers to the judge's questions and said nothing as he was taken back out to a waiting corrections department van.
Sweat's court-appointed attorney, Joe Mucia, said Sweat was calm and in a good mood. He declined to share what Sweat said or comment on their legal approach.
Each of the charges carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison. Sweat, 35, is serving life without parole for the killing of a sheriff's deputy. Matt, 49, was doing 25 years to life for the kidnapping and hacksaw dismemberment of his former boss.
The prisoners used power tools to saw through steel cell walls and several steel steam pipes, bashed a hole through a brick wall, squirmed through pipes and emerged from a manhole outside the prison to find that their getaway driver didn't show up.
Authorities said the escapees had planned to drive to Mexico but ended up walking toward Canada when prison worker Joyce Mitchell backed out of giving them a ride at the last minute.
Matt and Sweat apparently spent more than two weeks together roaming the thick northern New York woods before splitting up. Authorities believe they traveled mostly at night and managed to procure food, a gun and other supplies from hunting camps and seasonal cabins.
Sweat was captured about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of the prison.