Lyle Mitchell arrived at King’s Wok Buffet in Malone, New York at 4:15 p.m. on June 5, 2015 with his wife Joyce Mitchell, the 51-year-old civilian employee of the Clinton Correctional Facility, who pled guilty last week to aiding the escape of convicted killers David Sweat and Richard Matt.
But Mr. Mitchell had no clue his wife had agreed to participate in a murder conspiracy that intended to make this supper of Chinese food his last meal ever.
His wife was keeping a number of secrets from him that evening:
(1) She had been smuggling the prisoners hacksaw blades, a screwdriver bit, and glasses with special lights attached, which she knew they were using to cut through their cell walls as part of their escape plan.
(2) Matt had told her earlier in the day that he and Sweat were planning to escape that evening.
(3) She had agreed to pick up Matt and Sweat at midnight that evening in the family Jeep at a location near the power house just blocks south of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.
(4) She had accepted two pills from Matt on May 25 which were now hidden in a drawer next to the medicine cabinet in her bathroom at the home she shared with Mitchell in Dickinson, Center, New York, eighteen miles southwest of Malone. The pills, Matt had told her, would incapacitate her husband if she persuaded or tricked him into ingesting them.
(5) She had agreed to persuade or trick her husband into ingesting those two pills some time that evening before she began the 55 mile drive from her home in Dickinson Center to her rendezvous in Dannemora to pick up the escaped convicts.
(6) She had engaged in sexual activity with inmate Matt while working at the Clinton Correctional Facility. She would later confess to the lurid details in a sworn statement she gave to the New York State Police.
(7) She had agreed to drive Matt and Sweat from Dannemora to her home in Dickinson Center after she picked them up, at which point Matt would kill Lyle Mitchell.
After the murder of Lyle Mitchell, according to Joyce’s sworn statement, the three would drive “6 to 7 hours” to an unknown wooded area, where they would lay low for a week. Then, Matt would go off on his own and Joyce Mitchell would be alone with Sweat.
A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation would later say that Joyce had “a moment of clarity” during the 43 minutes they dined together at King’s Wok Buffet that evening and decided not to kill him.
A source familiar with the case tells Breibart News that Joyce Mitchell paid for the meal at King’s Wok Buffet at 4:58 p.m. that evening with her credit card. The bill for the food was $22.14. She left a $5.00 tip.
In a statement given to New York State Police investigators two days later at 7:31 pm, Sunday June 7 at the New York State Police Station located at 3327 State Route 11 in Malone, Mitchell described what happened next:
I left [Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York] with my husband around 3:30 pm. We stopped at the Chinese restaurant, across from the Malone State Police Station for supper. When we got home, I was not feeling well. I laid down and was having a panic attack. I slept for a bit and when I got up, I didn’t feel better. LYLE asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital and I said yes. We left for the hospital between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. and went to the Alice Hyde Medical Center Emergency Room. I stayed there until 2:00 am, when they said they were going to admit me overnight. LYLE left to go let the dog out. I got to my room between 2:15 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. I called LYLE around 2:30 a.m. to 3:200 am. He decided to stay home and get some sleep.
The distance from King’s Wok Buffet, which is located at 3324 New York State Route 11 in Malone, to the Mitchell residence in Dickinson Center, New York is 18 miles. According to Mapquest, it takes 24 minutes to make this drive.
Assuming they left the restaurant by 5:05 pm, the Mitchells would have arrived at their residence by 5:30 pm.
It is not known if Joyce Mitchell made an effort to persuade or trick her husband to ingest those two pills she had hidden in the drawer in her bathroom and failed in that attempt, or if she simply decided against the attempt after the two arrived home.
It is clear, however, that her husband drove her to the Alice Hyde Medical Center Emergency Room later that night at just about the time she would have had to leave her incapacitated husband behind in order to drive to Dannemora in order to pick up the two escaped convicts there at the agreed time of midnight.
The facts, as sworn to by Joyce Mitchell, appear to meet the standards for “conspiracy in the second degree, ” a Class B felony: “A person is guilty of conspiracy in the second degree when, with intent that conduct constituting a class A felony [such as murder] be performed, he agrees with one or more persons to engage in or cause the performance of such conduct.”
But Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie, did not include “conspiracy in the second degree” in the charges in the plea deal he offered to Mitchell, which she accepted.
“Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told reporters that he couldn’t use her word alone to convict Mitchell on a charge of conspiracy to murder her husband,” CNN reported, adding:
The inmate who was recaptured, David Sweat, did not corroborate the notion that the inmates planned to kill Lyle Mitchell, Wylie said. “Because of the facts that we had before us, to prove such a charge beyond a reasonable doubt would have been extremely difficult,” the prosecutor said.
[Joyce Mitchell’s attorney Stephen] Johnston denied Mitchell’s involvement in a plot to kill Lyle Mitchell.
And Lyle Mitchell himself has said he still loves his wife.
“He is still hopeful that he will have a life with her,” his attorney Peter Dumas said Tuesday
In other press reports, sources familiar with the investigation have said Sweat told them the plan was to kill Lyle Mitchell:
According to Sweat, this is how the plan was supposed to play out, officials said:
Sweat and Matt would come out of a manhole and meet Mitchell, who would whisk them away. The convicted murderers would then kill Mitchell’s husband Lyle before fleeing to Mexico.
In a sworn statement given to the New York State Police at 11:42 pm on June 10, Joyce Mitchell confessed that she flushed the two pills Matt gave her down the toilet in her home subsequent to her initial questioning:
Another thing I was not totally truthful about was the pills I was supposed to give my husband, LYLE. Sometime around Monday, May 25, 2015, Inmate Matt gave me two pills to drug my husband LYLE with. I took the pills home and put them in a drawer, next to the medicine cabinet, in my bathroom. I forgot about the pills since I did not go through with the original plan. Sometime this week, since I have been speaking with the police, I took the pills and flushed them down the toilet. I do not know what the pills were and can only describe them as small round pills.
Mitchell “pleaded guilty to bringing contraband into the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, a felony, and to criminal facilitation, a misdemeanor.”
She was not charged with conspiracy to commit murder or destruction of evidence. She faces a maximum 2 and 1/3 to 7 years in prison. She will be sentenced on September 28.
Wylie’s plea deal with Mitchell has been unpopular with many in upstate New York’s North Country, who consider it too lenient.
New York Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru), who represents Clinton County, has been highly critical of the deal, telling WAMC radio “justice was not served.”
Correction Officer Gene Palmer, who passed a lie-detector test that showed he was truthful when he told New York State Police investigators that he had no knowledge of the escape plans or that the frozen hamburger meat Joyce Mitchell gave him to give Richard Matt contained embedded hacksaw blades, has rejected a plea deal from Wylie.
Palmer’s case is scheduled to go before a grand jury.
He is charged with “promoting dangerous contraband, destroying evidence, and official misconduct.”
If convicted on all charges, he could face up to 7 years in prison.
The 23-day manhunt for the two escaped convicts ended after Richard Matt was killed on June 26 and David Sweat was shot and captured on June 28.