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New Hampshire's Highest Court Rejects Pamela Smart's Latest Attempt To Reduce Her Sentence
Pamela Smart was convicted in 1991 for convincing her teenage lover and his friends to kill her husband, Gregg Smart, in a case that inspired the movie "To Die For."
New Hampshire’s highest court has rejected Pamela Smart’s latest attempt to reduce her sentence, more than three decades after she was convicted of convincing her teenage lover to kill her husband.
Smart is currently serving out a life sentence without the possibility of parole in a New York prison, but the 55-year-old—whose sensational story once inspired the movie “To Die For” — had been hoping to reduce her sentence to allow for the possibility of parole, according to the decision from The Supreme Court of New Hampshire.
Smart requested a hearing before the state’s Executive Council and Governor Chris Sununu to commute her sentence, but after a discussion during a March 2022 meeting that lasted less than three minutes, the Governor and Executive Council voted to deny her request.
Smart’s attorneys petitioned the state’s Supreme Court in an attempt to have them order the governor and executive council to “re-consider” the request, arguing that the group had not considered the petition’s merits or Smart’s rehabilitation efforts before making their decision.
Ultimately, the state supreme court dismissed the petition Wednesday, ruling that they had a “lack of jurisdiction” in the matter.
As part of their decision, the court wrote that imposing procedural rules or standards on the executive branch, which has exclusive authority to exercise its clemency power, would “violate the separation of powers” doctrine. They concluded that Smart’s request was a “political, nonjusticiable question.”
Smart has long argued that she’s used her time behind bars to rehabilitate herself, earning Master’s degrees in law and English literature, working as an inmate advocate and being an active part of her church.
“The death penalty would have been more merciful than this,” Smart told The New York Times in an email sent by a supporter after the decision. “Nothing will ever be enough for New Hampshire to say I am a human being deserving of anything more than being locked up in a cage like an animal for the rest of my entire life.”
Smart was just 22-years-old and working as a high school media coordinator when authorities say she began an affair with 15-year-old student Billy Flynn. During their tryst, Smart convinced Flynn and his friends to kill her husband Gregg Smith in what was made to look like a robbery gone wrong.
The murder inspired the popular 1995 movie “To Die For,” starring Nicole Kidman.
While Smart has expressed remorse for having an affair with Flynn, a continued sticking point for the council in past attempts to reduce her sentence has been her refusal to take responsibility for orchestrating the killing, according to Oxygen’s “Dateline: Secrets Uncovered,” which recently featured the case.
“I’m supposed to admit to something I didn’t do just to get out of prison? I don’t get it,” Smart told Dateline’s Andrea Canning at the time.
Flynn and the other teens who helped carry out the murder have already served their time and been released.
Smart’s spokesperson Elenor Pam described the court’s decision to Oxygen.com as a “disappointment.”
"This ruling by the NH Supreme Court is a continuing disappointment that devastates our hopes for Pamela Smart finally receiving reasonable and fair process in the State of New Hampshire,” she said. “The Committee has never asked her a single question or referenced any of her many impressive and supporting letters. She has never been given the opportunity to be heard or allowed to make her case directly. Pamela Smart is fully rehabilitated and is no danger to society."
Pam said that although she has yet to speak with Smart about the ruling, she has been in touch with Smart’s parents, who were “hugely disappointed.”
“As their own medical issues worsen along with their daughter’s prospects, they had hoped she would be given the opportunity for an in-person appearance before the NH governor and Executive Council for the first time,” Pam said. “She is now 55 years old and has been in prison for over 33 years where she works daily to improve the lives of fellow inmates. Her parents had hoped Pamela would be able to discuss her record while incarcerated and assure the officials about her prospective behavior if released.”
Smart’s attorney Mark Sisti also spoke out against the ruling.
"We are very saddened that our supreme court side-stepped the main issue in this matter and has given the thumbs up to the governor and council to avoid doing their mandatory constitutional job," he said in a statement to ABC News.
Sisti believes the council “brushed aside” Smart’s petition without fully considering the letters of support she had received from her supervisors behind bars and other inmates, the Associated Press reports.
“We will not stop our attempts to free Pam Smart,” he said.
The family of Gregg Smart, however, feels the court made the right decision.
“She has had more than her fair share of being heard,” Gregg’s cousin Val Fryatt told the AP. “It’s not easy for us. We are coming up on 33 years without Gregg, and never once has she admitted her part, so I am unsure how she is rehabilitated. Gregg is the true victim in all of this.”