Woman Who Planned Husband's Murder With 15-Year-Old Student Admits It 34 Years Later

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Pamela Smart, who is serving life in prison for plotting with her teenage student to have her husband killed in 1990, accepted full responsibility for his death for the first time in a videotaped statement released Tuesday as part of her latest sentence reduction request.

Smart, 56, was a 22-year-old high school media coordinator when she began an affair with a 15-year-old boy who later fatally shot her husband, Gregory Smart, in Derry, New Hampshire. The shooter was freed in 2015 after serving a 25-year sentence. Though Pamela Smart denied knowledge of the plot, she was convicted of being an accomplice to first-degree murder and other crimes and sentenced to life without parole.

Smart has been incarcerated for nearly 34 years. She said in the statement that she began to “dig deeper into her own responsibility” through her experience in a writing group that “encouraged us to go beyond and to spaces that we didn’t want to be in.

Pamela Smart answers questions from the defense in her murder conspiracy trial March 18, 1991, in Rockingham County Superior Court in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Pamela Smart answers questions from the defense in her murder conspiracy trial March 18, 1991, in Rockingham County Superior Court in Exeter, New Hampshire.

“For me that was really hard, because going into those places, in those spaces is where I found myself responsible for something I desperately didn’t want to be responsible for, my husband’s murder,” she said, her voice quavering. “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, I think, almost as if it was a coping mechanism, because the truth of being so responsible was very difficult for me.”

She asked to have an “honest conversation” with New Hampshire’s five-member Executive Council, which approves state contracts and appointees to the courts and state agencies, and with Gov. Chris Sununu. The council rejected her latest request in 2022 and Smart appealed to the state Supreme Court, which dismissed her petition last year.

Val Fryatt, a cousin of Gregory Smart, told The Associated Press that Smart “danced around it” and accepted full responsibility “without admitting the facts around what made her ‘fully responsible.’”

Fryatt noted that Smart didn’t mention her cousin’s name in the video, “not even once.”

Messages seeking comment on the petition and statement were sent to the council members, Sununu, and the attorney general’s office.

Smart is serving time at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, New York. She has earned two master’s degrees behind bars and has also tutored fellow inmates, been ordained as a minister and been part of an inmate liaison committee. She said she is remorseful and has been rehabilitated.

The trial was a media circus and one of America’s first high-profile cases about a sexual affair between a school staff member and a student. Joyce Maynard wrote “To Die For” in 1992, drawing from the Smart case. That inspired a 1995 film of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix. The killer, William Flynn, and three other teens cooperated with prosecutors. They served shorter sentences and have been released.

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