Pamela Smart Trial: 1991
The Ice Melts
Throughout the proceedings Pamela Smart had maintained her composure, but contrition took over in the witness box. She claimed that her attempts to break off the affair with Flynn had been thwarted by his threats of suicide. "I was devastated," she said. While conceding the impropriety of their relationship, Smart vehemently denied any suggestion that she had planned murder. "I didn't force anybody to kill Greg!"
Then why, wondered Maggiotto, had she made those statements to Cecelia Pierce?
That had been a subterfuge, Smart said, all part of her own investigation into the murder of her husband.
"What were you going to do," asked Maggiotto, "Make a citizen's arrest?"
"Or was Pam Smart going to use her own investigation skills… and write a report and mail it in?"
"Yes," replied Smart, blaming some medication she was taking at the time for her apparent instability.
It was Smart's position, as it had been for the defense from the outset, that the murder was solely the work of the three teenagers, who now saw a way to ameliorate their sentences by implicating her. "They murdered Greg," she cried. "They're the ones who broke into the house. They waited for him. And they're the ones who brought him to his knees and brought a knife to his throat, before shooting him!"
The jury took 13 hours to decide Smart's fate. She stood emotionless as the guilty verdict was read. When Judge Douglas Gray imposed a life sentence without the possibility of parole, she seemed equally unaffected.
For their involvement in the murder, William Flynn and Patrick Randall each received sentences of 28 years to life. Vance Lattime received 18 years to life. Yet another student who knew of the plot, Raymond Fowler, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was jailed for 15 to 30 years.
In 1995, To Die For, a film loosely inspired by the Pamela Smart trial and starring Nicole Kidman, was released. In a made-for-television movie, Murder in New Hampshire, Pamela Smart was depicted as a scheming architect of murder. While the pertinency of that view is a matter of record, often overlooked is the ease with which her young lover was able to recruit assistants for his deadly mission. In this extraordinary case there was more than enough blame for everyone.
On March 11, 1993, it was announced that Smart had been moved from the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in Goffstown, New Hampshire, to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, 35 miles north of New York City. Although spokesman Donald Veno declined to comment on the move other than to say it was for "security reasons," rumors had reached the media concerning a relationship that Smart was allegedly conducting behind bars. Needless to say, her defense team was less than enthralled by the fact that they had not been told of the transfer beforehand. Commented one sarcastically, "There was a time in this country when prisoners had no rights."
Suggestions for Further Reading
Case, Tony. "Trial Coverage Under The Microscope." Editor & Publisher (April 20, 1991): 25ff.
Diamond, John N. Washington Journalism Review (June 1991): 15-16.
Plummer, William and Stephen Sawicki. People Weekly (February 4, 1991): 105-110.