The triggerman in the Pamela Smart murder trial was granted parole today, nearly 25 years after he killed his school instructor's husband and launched a global spectacle packed with lurid details of sex and manipulation. William Flynn was 16-year-old "Billy" in 1990 when he and three teenage friends carried out what prosecutors said was Pamela Smart's plot to murder Gregg Smart in New Hampshire. Flynn pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 28 years to life in prison, minus time served before trial. The trial was a media circus and one of the first high-profile cases about a sexual affair between an instructor and student. It inspired the Joyce Maynard novel To Die For, which in turn was made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman.
The board granted Flynn parole on his first attempt today, his 41st birthday. He has been in a Maine prison and participated in the hearing by telephone, telling the board that he'd always be haunted by the killing. Pamela Smart, who was 22 when her husband was killed, was convicted of being an accomplice to first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole. Smart was one of Flynn's instructors in a self-awareness program when she first seduced him when he was 15; Flynn testified that she threatened to break up with him if he didn't kill her husband. On May 1, 1990, Flynn and 17-year-old Patrick Randall entered the Smarts' Derry condominium and forced Gregory Smart to his knees in the foyer. As Randall held a knife to the man's throat, Flynn fired a hollow-point bullet into his head. Randall got 28 years to life; he comes up for parole in April. Two other teenagers served prison sentences and have been released. (Read more parole stories.)