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Pamela Smart

Pamela Smart

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Pamela Ann Smart is serving a life sentence for accomplice to first-degree murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

, conspiracy to commit murder
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 and witness tampering
Witness tampering
Witness tampering is harming or otherwise threatening a witness, hoping to influence his or her testimony.-Witness tampering in the USA:In the United States, the crime of witness tampering in federal cases is defined by statute at , "Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant"...

 in New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

. Smart was convicted for conspiring with her 15-year-old lover, William Flynn, and three friends of Flynn's to kill her 24-year-old husband, Gregory Smart in Derry
Derry, New Hampshire
-Climate:-Demographics:As of the census of 2010, there were 33,109 people, 12,537 households, and 8,767 families residing in the town. The population density was 924.8 people per square mile . There were 13,277 housing units at an average density of 143.2/km²...

, New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

 in 1990.

Early life

Pamela Ann Wojas was born in Coral Gables, Florida
Coral Gables, Florida
Coral Gables is a city in Miami-Dade County, Florida, southwest of Downtown Miami, in the United States. The city is home to the University of Miami....

. She is the second of three children, with her sister Elizabeth, six years older, and her brother John, three years younger. Her father worked as a commercial airline pilot, while her mother worked part time as a legal secretary.

When she was in elementary school, she moved with her family to Windham, New Hampshire
Windham, New Hampshire
Windham is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 13,592 at the 2010 census.- History :The area was initially home to the Pawtucket Native Americans. Scottish immigrants began to settle in the area in 1719. The region was known as “Nutfield” and included what...

. Smart went to high school at Pinkerton Academy
Pinkerton Academy
Pinkerton Academy is a secondary school in Derry, New Hampshire. It is the largest independent academy in the United States, serving roughly 3,600 students as the high school for the communities of Derry, Hampstead, Chester and sometimes Auburn...

 in Derry, where she was a cheerleader. After high school she went to college at Florida State University
Florida State University
The Florida State University is a space-grant and sea-grant public university located in Tallahassee, Florida, United States. It is a comprehensive doctoral research university with medical programs and significant research activity as determined by the Carnegie Foundation...

 and graduated with honors with a communications degree in 1988 in a little more than three years, with an accomplished 3.85 grade point average. During her college radio career, Smart combined her passion for heavy metal music with her career aspirations. She hosted a one-night-a-week radio show at Florida State University
Florida State University
The Florida State University is a space-grant and sea-grant public university located in Tallahassee, Florida, United States. It is a comprehensive doctoral research university with medical programs and significant research activity as determined by the Carnegie Foundation...

 that she called “Metal Madness", using the alias "Maiden of Metal".

Pamela Wojas met Gregory Smart at a 1986 New Year's Eve party. They formed a serious relationship in February 1987 and married two years later. They both shared a passion for heavy metal music. Greg bought her a Shih Tzu
Shih Tzu
The Shih Tzu is a breed of dog weighing with long silky hair. The breed originated in China and is among the earliest breeds. Shih Tzu were officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1969...

 and she named it "Halen" after her favorite rock group Van Halen
Van Halen
Van Halen is an American hard rock band formed in Pasadena, California, in 1972. The band has enjoyed success since the release of its debut album, Van Halen, . As of 2007 Van Halen has sold 80 million albums worldwide and has had the most #1 hits on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart...

. Seven months into the Smart's marriage, they began having serious problems in their relationship. She took a job as a media coordinator at Winnacunnet High School
Winnacunnet High School
Winnacunnet High School is an American public high school located in Hampton, New Hampshire. It serves students in grades 9 through 12 who reside in the communities of Hampton, Seabrook, North Hampton, and Hampton Falls. Students from South Hampton have the option of attending either Winnacunnet...

 in Hampton, New Hampshire
Hampton, New Hampshire
Hampton is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 14,976 at the 2010 census. Located beside the Atlantic Ocean, Hampton is home to Hampton Beach, a summer tourist destination....

. Smart met Winnacunnet High School student Billy Flynn at "Project Self-Esteem," a local drug awareness program at the school, in which both were both volunteers. She was able to impress him with her interest in heavy metal music. Smart also met another intern named Cecilia Pierce who was friends with Billy Flynn. Flynn, a sophomore, was always going out of his way to be helpful during the sessions and also visited Smart every day in her office.

Murder of Greg Smart

On May 1, 1990, Smart came home from a work meeting to find her condominium ransacked and her husband murdered. Murder was rare in Derry, New Hampshire, and this would be the only murder investigation that year. Police officials say the crime scene looked like a disrupted burglary. Smart was later accused of seducing 15-year-old William "Billy" Flynn and threatening to stop having sex with him unless he killed her husband. Flynn did so with the help of friends Patrick "Pete" Randall, Vance "J.R." Lattime Jr., and Raymond Fowler. Flynn shot Gregory Smart as Randall held him down, while Lattime, the driver, waited in the getaway car outside with Fowler.

During the investigation, J.R. Lattime's father brought a .38 caliber pistol he had found in his house to the police, believing it might have been the murder weapon. An anonymous tip also indicated that a teenager named Cecilia Pierce was aware of the plan. Police talked to Cecilia, and she then agreed to wear a wire and record some conversations with Smart, in hopes that she would say something incriminating, which she did. On August 1, 1990, at 1:05 p.m., Detective Daniel Pelletier entered Smart’s office unannounced. Smart recognized him, having spoken to him on at least six other occasions. Taken by surprise, she asked, “What’s up?” “Well, Pam,” Pelletier said in the recording, “I have some good news and I have some bad news. The good news is that we’ve solved the murder of your husband. The bad news is, you’re under arrest.” “What for?” Smart asked. “First-degree murder. Stand up and face the wall.” Smart was then handcuffed and arranged into the Derry District Court and jailed at the Rockingham County Jail.


Smart's trial was widely watched and garnered considerable media attention; she faced life in prison if convicted. When oral argument commenced March 4, 1991, Assistant Attorney General Diane Nicolosi portrayed the teenagers as naive victims of an "evil woman bent on murder." The prosecution portrayed Pamela Smart as the cold-blooded mastermind who controlled her young lover. Nicolosi claimed that Smart seduced Flynn to get him to murder her husband, so that she could avoid an expensive divorce and benefit from a $140,000 life insurance policy. In her testimony, Smart acknowledged that she had had an affair with the teenager, but claimed that the murder of her husband was solely the doing of Flynn and his friends, born as a reaction to her telling Flynn that she wished to end their relationship and repair her marriage. She insisted that she neither participated in the murder plot nor had any foreknowledge of it. Though Flynn claimed he had fallen in love with Smart when he first met her, Cecilia Pierce was to testify at trial that Smart and Flynn were originally just friends. She first noticed a change around February, when Smart confessed to Pierce that she "loved Bill." Flynn claims that he was a virgin before he had sex with Pamela Smart.

Smart was found guilty
Guilt (law)
In criminal law, guilt is entirely externally defined by the state, or more generally a “court of law.” Being “guilty” of a criminal offense means that one has committed a violation of criminal law, or performed all the elements of the offense set out by a criminal statute...

 on March 22, 1991 in the Rockingham County Superior Court after a 14-day trial, of "being an accomplice to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and witness tampering". This was largely as a result of the testimony of her conspirators and secretly-taped conversations in which Smart appeared to contradict her claims of having wanted to reconcile with her husband and of having no knowledge of the boys' plot. Smart argued that the media had influenced her trial and conviction. She could have been charged with capital murder, but the prosecution decided against it. Later that day she was given a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility for parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...



Smart is incarcerated at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women
Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women
Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women is a prison for women in Bedford Hills in the Town of Bedford, Westchester County, New York, USA. Bedford Hills, the only New York State Department of Correctional Services women's maximum security prison, is the largest women's prison in New York State...

, Westchester County, in New York State
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, where she is serving a life sentence. She the only person in New York incarcerated under an interstate compact between New York and New Hampshire. Smart was transferred to Bedford Hills
Bedford Hills, New York
Bedford Hills is an unincorporated hamlet in the Town of Bedford, New York.-History:When the railroad was built in 1847, Bedford Hills was known as Bedford Station. Bedford Hills extends from a business center at the railroad station to farms and estates, eastward along Harris, Babbitt and Bedford...

, a maximum security facility, from the New Hampshire State Prison for Women
New Hampshire State Prison for Women
New Hampshire State Prison for Women is the only women's prison in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Department of Corrections facility is located in Goffstown, Hillsborough County....

 in Goffstown, New Hampshire
Goffstown, New Hampshire
Goffstown is a town in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 17,651 at the 2010 census. The compact center of town, where 3,196 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the Goffstown census-designated place and is located at the...

 in 1993. State officials stated that she was transferred because New Hampshire did not have a secure enough facility to house her, the higher security necessary due to the high-profile nature of her case. Although she has not admitted responsibility for her crimes, Smart has conceded that if she had not had an affair with Flynn, Gregg Smart would still be alive. In prison, Smart has spent her time tutoring other inmates and has completed two masters degrees, in literature and legal studies, which were paid for with private funds from Mercy College
Mercy College (New York)
Mercy College is a private, non-profit liberal arts college with its main campus in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and satellite locations throughout southeastern New York, including the Bronx, Manhattan, White Plains and Yorktown...

. Smart became a member of the National Organization for Women
National Organization for Women
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the United States. It was founded in 1966 and has a membership of 500,000 contributing members. The organization consists of 550 chapters in all 50 U.S...

 campaigning for rights for women in prison.

In October 1996, Smart was severely beaten by inmates M. Graves and G. Miller, resulting in a metal plate being placed in the left side of her face. The two inmates beat her after accusing her of snitching on them about their prison relationship. Convicted of second-degree assault in an attack at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, the two inmates were transferred to separate prisons. In 2003, after pictures of a scantily-clad Smart were published in the National Enquirer; she was placed in solitary confinement. Smart sued, claiming the punishment was unfair treatment, but her lawsuit was dismissed. In 2004, Smart and fellow inmate Carolyn Warmus
Carolyn Warmus
Carolyn Warmus is serving a 25-year sentence for the murder of her lover's wife. The murder case attracted national attention and led to comparisons with the movie Fatal Attraction.-Early life:...

 sued officials of Bedford Hills, claiming sexual harassment
Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment, is intimidation, bullying or coercion of a sexual nature, or the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. In some contexts or circumstances, sexual harassment is illegal. It includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and...

, and also sexual assault
Sexual assault
Sexual assault is an assault of a sexual nature on another person, or any sexual act committed without consent. Although sexual assaults most frequently are by a man on a woman, it may involve any combination of two or more men, women and children....

 by a guard, whom they claimed coerced them into posing for the suggestive pictures published in 2003.

Pamela Smart is allowed among other items a radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

, a typewriter
A typewriter is a mechanical or electromechanical device with keys that, when pressed, cause characters to be printed on a medium, usually paper. Typically one character is printed per keypress, and the machine prints the characters by making ink impressions of type elements similar to the pieces...

 and 25 books in her jail cell. In her spare time, she says that she likes to read books and watch television with the other inmates, including Prison Break
Prison Break
Prison Break is an American television serial drama created by Paul Scheuring, that was broadcast on the Fox Broadcasting Company for four seasons, from 2005 until 2009. The series revolves around two brothers; one has been sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit, and the other devises an...

, which was a popular show among the inmates. The inmates like to prepare food, but Smart claims that she only has one meal a day because she has such a small appetite. Ever since she was severely beaten, she takes medication for chronic pain and sometimes thinks of suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

. Her counselor, Dr. Eleanor Pam, says that "she has many, many, many dark days." Smart says she still keeps track of Flynn because she regards him as being the key to her freedom. "He is one of the few people that could actually get me out of here, by coming forward and telling the truth, but he's never gonna do that," said Smart.

During her sentence, Smart took part in a writer’s workshop, facilitated by playwright Eve Ensler. The workshop and Smart’s writing were exhibited in the 2003 PBS documentary What I Want My Words to Do to You.

Albert Johnson, Smart's attorney from Boston, Massachusetts, is nationally known for his high-profile clients, such as Patty Hearst and F. Lee Bailey. In April 2004, the First U.S. Court of Appeals
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Maine* District of Massachusetts...

 upheld a 2002 ruling by a federal judge who rejected her federal habeas petition
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

. Previous to her federal appeal
An appeal is a petition for review of a case that has been decided by a court of law. The petition is made to a higher court for the purpose of overturning the lower court's decision....

, Smart had exhausted all judicial appeals at the state level. In July 2005, the New Hampshire Executive Council
Executive Council of New Hampshire
The Executive Council of the State of New Hampshire is the executive body of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. The Executive Council advises the Governor on all matters and provides a check on the governor's power. New Hampshire is one of the few states that has an Executive Council, and is the...

 unanimously denied a pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

 request for "any conditions the governor may seek to impose."

Smart is seeking a financial settlement from the state of New York. The New York attorney general's office is considering a settlement of Smart's 2006 lawsuit that accused prison officials of unfair treatment after the scantily clad photos of her in a jail cell appeared in a 2003 issue of the National Enquirer. According to court documents, Assistant Attorney General Maria Barous Hartofilis asked federal court Judge Robert W. Sweet
Robert W. Sweet
Robert Workman Sweet is an American jurist and currently a senior United States federal judge serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.-Early life and career:...

 for a two-month delay while the state considers the settlement offer for Smart that includes legal fees. The offer was made by Smart's attorney Nicholas Brook. In the lawsuit, Smart claims that after the photos appeared in the tabloid, she was forced to spend two months in a 23-hour-a-day lockdown after filing the complaint. Smart also spends her time pondering the loss of a life outside of prison and still maintains hope of having children. On November 5, 2009, a U.S. District Court Judge countenanced $23,875 to Smart from the state of New York.


William Flynn and Patrick Randall are serving their sentences at the Maine State Prison
Maine State Prison
The Maine State Prison was erected in Thomaston, Maine in 1824 and relocated to Warren in 2002. This maximum-security prison has a capacity of 916 adult male inmates with an average daily population of 900.-History:...

 in Warren, Maine
Warren, Maine
Warren is a town in Knox County, Maine, United States. The population was 3,794 at the 2000 census. It includes the villages of East Warren, Warren and South Warren, the latter home to the Maine State Prison and minimum security Bolduc Correctional Facility....

. Raymond Fowler was paroled in 2003 but was sent back to prison for violating his parole terms in 2004. He was paroled again in June 2005. Vance Lattime had his 30-year sentence reduced by 12 years. In 2005, his sentence was reduced by three years, and he was paroled.

Cecilia Pierce, who was one of Pamela Smart's interns at the time of the murder, signed a $100,000 option for the screen rights to her story.

Recent events

In an interview with ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

, Smart indicated she is afraid of growing old and dying in prison and would rather have had the death penalty than life.

William Flynn is incarcerated at the Maine State Prison in Warren
Warren, Maine
Warren is a town in Knox County, Maine, United States. The population was 3,794 at the 2000 census. It includes the villages of East Warren, Warren and South Warren, the latter home to the Maine State Prison and minimum security Bolduc Correctional Facility....

, where he earned his GED
General Educational Development tests are a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has American or Canadian high school-level academic skills...

, has been active in charity work and worked as an electrician at the prison. In 2007, Flynn sought a sentence reduction after serving 16 years, stating that he had vowed not to do so until he had spent as many years behind bars as he had spent free. He also apologized to Gregg Smart's family for murdering him. The Smart family opposed the request. On February 12, 2008, the request was denied, although Flynn's parole eligibility date was reduced by three years to 25 years, making him eligible for parole in 2015. In March 2009, a judge reduced Patrick Randall's minimum sentence by three years, making him eligible for release in June 2015.

In media

  • Dean J. Smart, brother of murder victim Gregg Smart, released Skylights and Screendoors (ISBN13: 978-1-936680-02-3), his memoir, on April 7, 2011.

  • Smart appeared on Oprah on October 22, 2010. On the show, Smart claimed she was innocent and believes that her sentence for life in prison is too harsh.

  • The trial was the basis of the television movie
    Television movie
    A television film is a feature film that is a television program produced for and originally distributed by a television network, in contrast to...

     Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story
    Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story
    Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story is a 1991 made-for-tv-film based on the true story of Pamela Smart seducing one of her 15 year old students into sex and to murdering her husband, Gregg Smart, in Derry, New Hampshire. It is directed by Joyce Chopra and stars Helen Hunt as...

    , starring Helen Hunt
    Helen Hunt
    Helen Elizabeth Hunt is an American actress, film director, and screenwriter. She starred in the sitcom Mad About You for seven years, before being cast in the romantic comedy As Good as It Gets...

     and Chad Allen
    Chad Allen (actor)
    Chad Allen is an American actor. Beginning a prolific career as a child actor at the age of seven, Allen is a three-time Young Artist Award winner and GLAAD Media Award honoree, best known for rising to prominence as a teen idol during the late 1980s as David Witherspoon on the NBC family drama,...

  • Joyce Maynard
    Joyce Maynard
    Daphne Joyce Maynard is an American author known for writing with candor about her life, as well as for her works of fiction and hundreds of essays and newspaper columns, often about parenting and family...

     drew several elements from the case for her 1992 novel To Die For (ISBN 978-0451186072).

  • Maynard's novel was adapted by Buck Henry
    Buck Henry
    Henry Zuckerman, better known as Buck Henry , is an American actor, writer, film director, and television director.-Early life:...

     for Gus Van Sant
    Gus Van Sant
    Gus Green Van Sant, Jr. is an American director, screenwriter, painter, photographer, musician, and author. He is a two time nominee of the Academy Award for Best Director for his 1997 film Good Will Hunting and his 2008 film Milk, both of which were also nominated for Best Picture, and won the...

    's 1995 movie To Die For
    To Die For
    To Die For is a 1995 dark comedy film, made in a mockumentary format, directed by Gus Van Sant and written by Buck Henry, based on the novel of the same name by Joyce Maynard, which in turn was based on the Pamela Smart story. It stars Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, and Joaquin Phoenix...

    , starring Nicole Kidman
    Nicole Kidman
    Nicole Mary Kidman, AC is an American-born Australian actress, singer, film producer, spokesmodel, and humanitarian. After starring in a number of small Australian films and TV shows, Kidman's breakthrough was in the 1989 thriller Dead Calm...

     and Matt Dillon
    Matt Dillon
    Matthew Raymond "Matt" Dillon is an American actor and film director. He began acting in the late 1970s, gaining fame as a teenage idol during the 1980s.- Early life :...

     as the fictional wife and husband, and Joaquin Phoenix
    Joaquin Phoenix
    Joaquin Rafael Phoenix , formerly credited as Leaf Phoenix, is an American film actor. He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and his family returned to the continental United States four years later...

     as the wife's teenaged lover.

  • The case was also the subject of several best-selling true crime
    True crime (genre)
    True crime is a non-fiction literary and film genre in which the author examines an actual crime and details the actions of real people.The crimes most commonly include murder, but true crime works have also touched on other legal cases. Depending on the writer, true crime can adhere strictly to...

     books, including Teach Me To Kill (ISBN 978-0380766499) and Deadly Lessons (ISBN 978-0312927615).

  • The character of Becky Burgess in feminist writer Marge Piercy
    Marge Piercy
    Marge Piercy is an American poet, novelist, and social activist. She is the author of the New York Times bestseller Gone to Soldiers, a sweeping historical novel set during World War II.-Biography:...

    's novel The Longings of Women (ISBN 978-1570420443) was inspired by Pamela Smart and the conspiracy to kill Gregory Smart.

  • The crime series American Justice
    American Justice
    American Justice is an American criminal justice television program on the A&E Network, hosted by Bill Kurtis. The show features interesting or notable cases, such as the Selena Murder of a Star, Scarsdale Diet doctor murder, the Hillside Stranglers, Matthew Shepard, or the Wells Fargo heist, with...

    played an episode on the case "Crime of Passion: The Pamela Smart Story".

External links