Pamela Smart's Latest Bid for Release Rejected

NH council voted 5-0 against granting her a commutation hearing
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2021 3:39 PM CST
Updated Mar 23, 2022 1:11 PM CDT
Pamela Smart Seeks Freedom 31 Years After Husband's Death
Pamela Smart is interviewed by WMUR in prison in Bedford Hills, NY, in 2010.   (WMUR Television via AP, File)

Update: New Hampshire's Executive Council has unanimously rejected Pamela Smart's request for a commutation hearing, 32 years after she recruited her 15-year-old lover to kill husband Gregg Smart, the AP reports. Smart, 54, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Associate Attorney General Jeff Strelzin urged the five-member board to turn down the request, despite a letter from Smart taking responsibility for the killing for the first time. "Decades of lies cannot be undone in an instant by newfound claims of remorse and vague acceptance of responsibility," Strelzin said, per WMUR. This is the third time Smart's request for a hearing has been denied. Our original story from Dec. 7, 2021 follows:

More than three decades after her husband was slain in their New Hampshire home, Pamela Smart has "accepted responsibility for her role in Gregg Smart's murder" and "expressed deep remorse and anguish concerning her conduct," her lawyers say. The claim is included in a new filing for a commutation of Smart's sentence. She's been imprisoned at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York longer than any other inmate, WMUR reports. "I have now spent over 31 years in prison—more than half my life," Smart, 54, wrote in her request. The four men convicted as teenagers in the killing have all been freed.

Smart said her affair with one of them, Billy Flynn, led to her husband's death; Flynn admitted to the 1990 shooting. Every defendant in the case received a reduced sentence for testifying against Smart, per the Portsmouth Herald, who worked at a high school at the time of the killing. She received a life sentence without chance of parole. In her new filings, Smart did not admit to planning the crime, though she and her lawyers said she now accepts responsibility. "For many years, I blamed others for my incarceration because I was immature, selfish, and proud," she wrote, adding, "It took years, even decades for me to accept responsibility, and I must carry that burden."

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The state Attorney General's Office said it's reviewing Smart's petition before the Executive Council votes on whether to hold a hearing. "If the council wants to take it up as a hearing," said Gov. Chris Sununu, "then we always kind of lean on them to decide if that's the right path forward." Smart told the governor and council that she's committed to doing good, not just being good. She has received a master’s degree in criminal law and one in English literature while in prison and become an ordained minister. This is Smart's third such request. "Please show Pamela the mercy that the state has shown the admitted murderers," her parents wrote. (More commutation stories.)

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