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29 Years Later, Some Questioning Pamela Smart's Sentence

The now-51-year-old remains behind bars
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2019 5:00 PM CST
In this March 18, 1991 file photo, Pamela Smart, 23, takes the oath before sitting in the witness stand in Rockingham County Superior Court in Exeter, NH.   (AP Photo/Jon Pierre Lasseigne,File)
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(Newser) – Four teenage boys were convicted in the 1990 murder of Gregg Smart, and as of 2015, all four of them had been released. Smart's wife, Pamela, convicted of convincing the teens (one of whom was her lover) to kill him, remains behind bars. The now-51-year-old, who inspired the Nicole Kidman character in the mockumentary To Die For, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for witness tampering, conspiracy to commit murder, and being an accomplice to first-degree murder. In a series of new interviews with the Washington Post, she still insists she didn't order a hit on her husband and says the thought of dying in prison is "always" on her mind: "I would rather be put to death than die in here of old age." Her case is back in the news as a new legal filing asks New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to commute her sentence and make her eligible for parole.

As the Post notes, life sentences without parole have recently come under scrutiny in the US, and Smart's sentence is of particular interest to some activists since she was so young when convicted (23) and because she has not been freed while the four males involved have been. Some of the "prominent feminists" who have written to the state on her behalf include Gloria Steinem, Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler, and Sexual Politics author Kate Millett. And then, of course, there's Smart herself and advocates including her mother, who insist she's innocent; Smart's mother blames the "quote, fake media" for her daughter's conviction. But Smart also says she finally feels, in one way, "responsible for my husband's death. ... Had I not made that initial, horrible decision [to have an affair] nothing would have happened." Read the fully story at the Post. (Read more Longform stories.)

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