David Sweat Claims He Practiced Escape and Was Almost Caught Twice During 3-Week Manhunt

David Sweat was hiding in a hunting tree stand when an officer walked past him.

ByABC News
June 30, 2015, 5:20 PM

— -- Escaped prisoner David Sweat told investigators he was almost discovered twice during the three weeks authorities were searching the woods of upstate New York for him and fellow inmate Richard Matt — including one time that police walked right by him as he hid in a hunting tree stand, officials said.

Sweat also revealed to investigators he and Matt did a dry-run the night before their June 6 prison break, Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told ABC News today.

The prisoners may have been planning their escape for six months, Wylie said.

Sweat told investigators that the first time he was almost caught, both he and Matt were hiding near a cabin when three people came to check on it, Wylie said.

The people were discussing whether they should stay at the cabin or leave and Sweat said he and Matt were close enough to hear their conversation, Wylie said.

Sweat told the investigators he and Matt stayed hidden until the three people left, according to the DA.

The second instance happened within the past week, after Sweat and Matt separated, Sweat allegedly told investigators.

Sweat claimed he was hiding in a hunting tree stand when an officer walked past him, Wylie said.

Investigators were interviewing Sweat to better understand how the men escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, and how they were able to avoid police for so long.

Sweat told investigators that when Joyce Mitchell, a prison tailor shop employee who’s been charged in connection with the escape, didn’t show up at midnight to get them, the men fled on foot, heading north and west toward Canada, according to Wylie.

Sweat also revealed he and Matt separated five days before he was taken into custody. Sweat said they separated because Matt wasn’t focused any longer and was slowing him down, according to Wylie.

Sources briefed on the matter told ABC News Tuesday that interviews with Sweat have concluded for now.

Wylie said Sweat was cooperative during the investigators’ questioning.

According to the DA, Wylie was advised of his Miranda rights. "He's aware of his rights, he knows he has the right to an attorney, he knows he doesn't have to speak to law enforcement officers," he said. It was not clear whether Sweat has a lawyer.

Sweat is recovering at Albany Medical Center after he was apprehended, shot and wounded Sunday in the area of Constable, New York, about 1.5 miles south of the Canadian border.

His condition was listed as fair Tuesday. He is expected to remain at the hospital "for at least a few days" before he is moved to a maximum-security prison, sources said.

Matt, meanwhile, was shot and killed Friday in Elephant's Head, New York, about 16 miles south of where Sweat was found, police said.