Council Rejects Smart Pardon Hearing
An Associated Press Report
Hampton Union, Friday, July 15, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
CONCORD (AP) -- Pamela Smart won't be getting out of prison anytime soon, and possibly ever.
Her mother waited quietly to plead her daughter's case after 15 years. But no one called on her when she raised her hand.
Seconds before she opened her mouth, the five-member Executive Council had voted unanimously to deny a pardon hearing for her daughter. Smart is serving life without parole for recruiting her teenage lover and his friends to murder her husband, Gregory Smart, in 1990.
"Excuse me sir, may I please respectfully request to be heard by the council?" Linda Wojas asked Gov. John Lynch, who presides over the panel, moments after the vote Wednesday.
"I'm sorry ma'am, I have to deny your request. This is a public meeting and not a public hearing so I must deny your request," Lynch said.
Afterward, Wojas distributed a statement to reporters.
"The bar seems to be raised higher for those who maintain their innocence than those who admit to murder," it said. "Pamela and all my family always will grieve for Gregg and his family. She cannot, however, accept responsibility for having any role in Gregg's murder. That responsibility belongs solely to Bill Flynn and his friends."
Smart, 37, sought "any conditions the governor may seek to impose," including a suspended sentence and probation, fines, restitution, community service or home electronic monitoring.
As in her failed appeals, Smart's request argued that her trial was tainted by intense media coverage.
"It was impossible for me to receive a fair trial, and I did not receive one," she wrote in a letter accompanying her petition. "I live everyday with the ominous realization that I will only leave here in a casket. The fact that the men who callously murdered my husband will someday be freed is grossly unfair."
But Lynch and the council, an elected body that considers pardons, were unmoved by letters proclaiming Smart's innocence and good deeds in prison. Smart has earned two master's degrees and works as a teacher's aide and counselor to other inmates.
"I do believe that Pamela Smart's crimes were brutal," Lynch said. "She was fairly convicted by a jury of New Hampshire citizens and she was fairly sentenced."
Smart has said her request is largely the effort of her mother, who has made her daughter's fate her own life's work.
Wojas also gave reporters copies of an anonymous letter dated March 1991, addressed to the attorney general's office. The writer claims to have been a member of the jury pool for Smart's trial and says that at least one juror was biased because of pretrial media coverage. Simon Brown, chief of the attorney general's criminal bureau, said his office was not immediately able to verify the letter, as the case files are archived. Brown said the law doesn't limit the number of times Smart can ask for a pardon.
Smart is in prison in Bedford Hills, N.Y., for persuading her young lover, William Flynn, and his friends, all of Seabrook, to murder her husband. Smart, who was 22, denies helping plan her husband's shooting.
Flynn, then 16, had been having an affair with Smart, a media coordinator at Winnacunnet High School. She knew Flynn from a self-esteem course she taught at the school.
Smart's lawyers argued that Flynn wanted Gregory Smart out of the way so he could continue the affair, which began when he was 15. Prosecutors said Smart wanted her husband killed so she wouldn't lose her condo, furniture and dog in a divorce.
The case was tabloid fodder and led to books and movies, including "To Die For," starring Nicole Kidman as a television personality who enlists three teens to kill her husband.
Flynn and Patrick Randall remain in prison and are eligible for parole in 2018. Raymond Fowler, who waited in the getaway car, is out on parole. Vance Lattime Jr., who supplied the gun and the getaway car, was scheduled for a parole hearing on Thursday.
Eleanor Pam, Smart's spokeswoman and advocate, said Smart was aware that the governor and council all had previously said they would oppose a pardon hearing.
"This process was so egregiously unfair," said Pam. "What they're looking for really is remorse. And that's were Pam has really been stuck, because if you're innocent, how can you express remorse?"