By Patrick Cronin
Portsmouth Herald, January 26, 2008
[The following article is courtesy of Portsmouth Herald and Seacoast Online.]
BRENTWOOD — William Smart said there isn't a day that goes by that he doesn't think of his late son Gregory, and while he can accept the apology from the man who killed him 18 years ago, he doesn't want him to get out of prison.
"Your apology was heartfelt, and I hope it helps you heal," Smart told a tearful William Flynn. "I want you to know I accept your apology and may God bless you."
Members of the Smart family testified during an emotional two-hour hearing at Rockingham County Superior Court on Friday asking the judge not to grant Flynn's request to reduce his 28 years-to-life sentence.
Superior Court Judge Kenneth McHugh took Flynn's request under advisement. Flynn, who was 16 when he shot and killed Gregory Smart in 1991, took the stand during the hearing — not to address the judge, but to speak to the Smart family.
"I want you to know that I'm very sorry," said a sobbing Flynn.
Flynn said he takes full responsibility for his actions, but wanted the family to know why he did what he did, even though there is no excuse.
He told them that he was an insecure teenager who felt abandoned by his family.
"I just had a general feeling of being worthless and isolated," Flynn said.
All that changed, Flynn said, when he met Pamela Smart, a media coordinator at Winnacunnet High School.
Flynn said she gave him the attention he desired, made him feel important, and picked him out of everyone at the high school to be her lover.
"I would have killed for her, and she knew that," Flynn said.
Flynn said when Pamela asked him to murder her husband, he knew it was wrong, but didn't want to lose the only person who treated him like he wasn't a piece of garbage.
"She threatened to take away the only thing that was good in my life," Flynn said. "I know none of this excuses what I did. I take full responsibility for my actions. Every day I think about what I've done to you and the people I hurt, and I'm terribly and deeply ashamed of myself for being so weak."
Cathy Green, Flynn's attorney, argued that Flynn is rehabilitated and deserves a chance to live a productive life.
Since entering prison, Flynn has earned a GED, taken college computer courses and earned an electrician's helper license.
He also got married to a former executive assistant to the superintendent of schools in Wiscasset, Maine, and has a stepdaughter.
Flynn's wife, Kelly, was in the audience, but didn't speak at the hearing.
The state objected to Flynn's request, saying he was rewarded for his cooperation when he accepted a plea bargain for a lesser charge.
Originally charged with first-degree murder, prosecutors dropped it to second degree, which allows him to be eventually paroled, in exchange for his testimony against Pamela Smart. Pamela Smart, who is serving a life sentence, does not deny the affair, but maintains she had nothing to do with the murder.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said the message to the community needs to be clear.
"No matter your age or circumstances, when you commit premeditated, cold-blooded murder, you will spend the majority of your life in prison," Morrell said.
She also pointed out that Flynn's stepdaughter, who wrote a glowing letter to the judge, has apparently changed her mind.
In a new letter, the stepdaughter says she will not live with her mother if Flynn lives there.
William Smart, wearing the wedding band that belonged to his son, told Flynn that if he completes his full sentence, he will not object to his request to be paroled in 2018.
"But until then, I will fight you with my last breath and last heartbeat, and I am not a well man," Smart said.
Dean Smart, Gregory's brother, wasn't as forgiving, pointing out that in Flynn's own letter to the judge asking for the reduction, he mentions himself 85 times, but only made four references to the man he killed.
"You think your respect for life and desire to help others comes from Greg, the man you murdered?" Dean Smart said incredulously. "It's your desire to get of jail early that drives you to do your charity work. You do your charity for your own pathetic cause. If you truly wanted forgiveness, you would serve your complete sentence as a man of your word."
He also said Flynn misspelled Gregory's name.
Dean Smart said he had only one word to say to Flynn about accepting his apology.
It was the same word, Dean said, that Flynn said to Gregory when he was begging for mercy on May 1, 1990.
"(Bang!) no," said Dean Smart.