Decade later, Pam still smarts over conviction

By Dawn Souza

Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, February 29, 2000

Charles Manson and Pamela Smart are both serving life sentences, but there's one big difference in the mind of the former Derry, N.H., woman.

Mr. Manson gets to ask for freedom at parole hearings. Mrs. Smart does not.

"I'm in here until I die for a crime where I wasn't even at the scene of the crime. I didn't pull the trigger," Mrs. Smart said during an interview at the women's prison in Bedford Hills, N.Y. "Charles Manson is eligible for parole. Even though he's not getting it, he's eligible."

Mrs. Smart, who was convicted of masterminding her husband's murder 10 years ago, still maintains her innocence and, in a television interview aired last night, compared her case to other high-profile crimes. The interview was broadcast on WB56's 10 p.m. newscast.

Mrs. Smart also compared herself to Joey Buttafuoco, the New York auto body shop owner whose alleged teen-age mistress shot his wife and claimed he told her do to it. Amy Fisher served time for the shooting, but Mr. Buttafuoco was never charged. His wife survived the attack.

"Basically Joey Buttafuoco is accused of the same thing I'm accused of, and he's a movie star in Hollywood and I'm in prison," she said.

Mrs. Smart was 22 when Gregory Smart, her husband of less than a year, was found shot in the head in their Misty Morning Drive condominium in Derry on Aug. 1, 1990.

She was convicted in March 1991 of telling her 16-year-old lover, William "Billy" Flynn, to shoot her husband. Mrs. Smart met the teen through her job as media services director at Winnacunnet High in Hampton, N.H.

Mr. Flynn, with three friends as accomplices, killed Mr. Smart and later pleaded guilty to the crime and testified against Mrs. Smart. She was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Mrs. Smart's case made national headlines and remains one of the most notorious crimes in New Hampshire history.

In addition to her comments about other high-profile crimes, Mrs. Smart also offered details about her life in prison.

The now honey-blond inmate plays racquetball every night, has a curling iron in her cell and orders from the Victoria's Secret lingerie catalogue. She also tutors other inmates daily and, at age 32, is working toward a master's degree through correspondence courses.

She gets a weekend "trailer visit" with her parents twice a year and still bears faint scars around her left eye from a 1996 jail attack. Two female inmates beat her, after accusing her of snitching on them about their prison relationship.

Mrs. Smart says she still keeps track of Mr. Flynn because he is her key to freedom.

"He is one of the few people that could actually get me out of here, by coming forward and telling the truth, but he's never gonna do that," Mrs. Smart said.

She said if he did, he would lose his plea bargain. He is serving a jail sentence of 28 years to life, but unlike Mrs. Smart, is eligible for parole. Mrs. Smart was also asked about the recent case involving Mary Kay Letourneau, the 36-year-old Tacoma, Wash., schoolteacher who bore two children by her 14-year-old student.

Ms. Letourneau had a child-rape sentence suspended after the first child was born, but was ordered to serve jail time after being found with the boy again and having his second child.

"It was disgusting," Mrs. Smart said of the Letourneau case.

Mrs. Smart does not draw any comparisons to her own affair with a teen-age boy, according to the interview. She was 22 and Mr. Flynn 15 when their affair started.

Pamela Johnston, assistant news director at WB56, said the interview was done by the channel's sister station, WPIX in New York. Both stations were trying to secure an interview with the infamous Derry woman for February sweeps. She said Mrs. Smart, against her lawyers' wishes, agreed to an interview with WPIX.