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Pamela Smart Denied Reduced Sentence Years After Convincing Teen To Kill Husband
It's been 32 years since a handful of high school students participated in the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Gregg Smart at the behest of his wife.
The former New Hampshire high school employee whose criminal activity became the subject of a critically acclaimed mid-90s film has been denied a reduction in the life sentence she is serving.
Years after the sensationalized story of high school employee Pamela Smart — who enlisted a teenage boy and his friends to kill her husband — became an international headlines, a panel has determined that the New Hampshire woman will remain behind bars.
Pamela Smart was a 22-year-old media director at Winnacunnet High School in 1990 when she engaged 15-year-old student Billy Flynn ina sexual relationship that was, under New Hampshire law, deemed non-consensual based on his age, as previously covered by Oxygen. In what was one of the most notorious teacher-student cases to make headlines across America, Smart convinced her teenage victim to fatally shoot her husband, 24-year-old Gregg Smart.
In response to Smart’s third attempt to have her life sentence reduced, the New Hampshire Executive Council on Wednesday unanimously denied her request, according to ABC affiliate WMUR News. While there were no witnesses or testimony at the commutation hearing, a letter written by Smart in September to the governor was considered as part of their deliberations.
“I have now spent over 31 years in prison, more than half my life. I apologize to the entire Smart family, my own family, and all who were directly or indirectly impacted by my actions and misjudgment,” wrote Smart. “For many years, I blamed others for my incarceration because I was immature, selfish, and proud. I refused to see my own role in Gregg’s death. …It took years, even decades, for me to accept responsibility, and I must carry that burden.”
The Attorney General’s Office filed a 55-page response to the petition on March 2, requesting the Executive Council consider the “overwhelming evidence of [Smart’s] guilt,” according to the Manchester outlet. The response by Associate Attorney General Jeff Strelzin was also taken into consideration at Wednesday’s hearing.
“Decades of lies cannot be undone in an instant by newfound claims of remorse and vague acceptance of responsibility,” wrote Strelzin in his statement.
Of the five people convicted in connection to Gregg Smart’s murder, the now-54-year-old Smart is the only one who remains in prison. As previously reported, Billy Flynn and three of his teenage friends who assisted in the crime pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder in exchange for their testimony against Smart.
Flynn testified that on May 1, 1990, he and another teenage boy ransacked the Smarts’ condo and waited for Gregg to return home, all while Pamela was out of town for a school meeting.
When Gregg arrived, the other boy held a knife to his throat. Flynn then uttered the words “God forgive me” before shooting the victim in the back of the head.
The other two teenage boys drove the getaway car.
During the trial, prosecutors alleged Smart was growing bored in her marriage and wanted to cash in on her husband’s $140,000 life insurance policy, as previously reported by Oxygen. Smart regularly sent Flynn seductive photos of herself while claiming that Gregg Smart was abusive.
The case was blown wide open when another teenage student, Cecelia Pierce, admitted to authorities that she knew about the murder. Pierce, a student intern for Smart at the high school, wore a wire for law enforcement and got Smart to divulge that she knew about the murder before it happened. She even attempted to coach Pierce to lie to the cops about what she knew about the homicide.
Until Smart’s third attempt to have her life sentence reduced, she had repeatedly claimed that she had nothing to do with her husband’s murder, insisting that Flynn killed Gregg because she ended the sexual relationship — which, under New Hampshire law, was considered coercive — with the teenager.
“I mean, the only evidence of an injustice is what happened to the victim and his family,” said Strelzin. “This is a situation where the petitioner coerced teenagers to do her bidding, which was to kill her husband so she could avoid the financial consequences of a divorce.”
Smart’s request for a sentence reduction was rejected in a 5-0 vote, according to Boston.com.
Since her conviction, Smart has become an ordained minister and earned two master’s degrees while behind bars, according to Boston.com. She also tutors fellow inmates and is part of an inmate liaison committee.
Her spokesperson, Eleanor Smart, called Wednesday's decision “disappointing,” according to WMUR News.
“Evidence presented in the petition of Pamela Smart’s behalf was overwhelming,” said the spokesperson. “And any fair reading of it by fair-minded persons would have resulted in a hearing.”
The murder of Gregg Smart spawned many film and TV adaptations, including Gus Van Sant’s 1995 film “To Die For” starring Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix. The story was also featured in Oxygen’s “Snapped” and “Killer Couples.”
Pamela Smart will have the option to request a reduced sentence again in two years.