34 Years Later, Pamela Smart Accepts Blame for Murder

She is serving a life term in husband's slaying, hopes NH governor will commute her sentence
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2024 12:19 PM CDT
Updated Jun 15, 2024 12:30 PM CDT

For three decades while serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, Pamela Smart maintained she had nothing to do with her husband's 1990 murder. That story has finally changed. In a video released Tuesday, Smart says she's learned to take responsibility for the killing through a prison writing class that challenged inmates to go into "[mental] spaces that we didn't want to be in." It's the first time the 56-year-old accused of plotting with her teenage lover to kill Gregg Smart has accepted full responsibility, per the AP. The video shared with WMUR comes as Smart, who has exhausted all appeal options, is petitioning New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to commute her sentence.

She was 22 when she was convicted of being an accomplice to murder in 1991. Prosecutors said the high school media coordinator had plotted with her 15-year-old lover and three other male students to murder her husband, who was found shot dead in the couple's condo in Derry on May 1, 1990. The students cooperated with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to lesser charges. The shooter, William Flynn, served a 25-year sentence before his release in 2015. Despite her no-parole status, Smart maintained she had no role in the murder plot. She previously admitted her husband would still be alive if not for her affair, per ABC News, but stopped short of admitting full responsibility.

Jailed since 1990, Smart now says she's ready for an "honest conversation" with the New Hampshire Executive Council "about my incarceration, my acceptance of responsibility, and any concerns you might have." She says a prison writing group allowed her to "dig deeper" into her responsibility for the crime. "I found myself responsible for something I desperately didn't want to be responsible for, my husband's murder," an emotional Smart says in the video. "I had to acknowledge for the first time in my own mind and my own heart how responsible I was, because I had deflected blame all the time." Now "I can see so many errors that I made, and I can see how skewed my judgment was and how immature I was," she continues.

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The five-member Executive Council rejected Smart's request for a commutation hearing for a third time in 2022. Smart appealed to the state Supreme Court, which dismissed her petition last year due to a lack of jurisdiction. It's unclear how the council will interpret her new admission. A cousin of the murder victim certainly isn't taking it well. Val Fryatt says Smart accepted responsibility "without admitting the facts around what made her 'fully responsible'" and failed to mention her dead husband's name even once, per the AP. (More New Hampshire stories.)

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