After Being Denied Prison Release, Pamela Smart — Whose Teen Lover Killed Husband — Files Appeal

Pamela Smart, who was convicted of the 1990 murder of her husband, attempted to get her life sentence reduced

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Pamela Smart is appealing to the highest court in New Hampshire to hold a hearing on her request to reduce her prison sentence.

Smart, a former high school employee, is serving a life sentence for recruiting her teenage lover to kill her husband. She petitioned for a sentence reduction, but was denied earlier this month. She is incarcerated at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, a maximum security prison in Westchester County, N.Y. (Smart was transferred to New York from New Hampshire in 1993.)

Last Thurdsday, attorney Mark Sisti filed a petition with the New Hampshire Executive Council, contending that Smart's rights under the New Hampshire Constitution were violated when the council refused "to even consider her request for a hearing" on her petition.

Sisti wrote that the refusal "is tantamount to a sentence of extermination as it prevents her from being deemed fit to return to society and thus forecloses any chance at having her sentence altered."

Sisti wrote that Smart has served as a peer counselor to other inmates and has even completed multiple academic degree programs. "Those charged with supervising her have indicated that her conduct and actions in prison warrant an opportunity to rejoin society," he wrote.

Smart's case was one of the most high-profile crime stories of the early 1990s.

Her husband, Gregg Smart, was found dead in his New Hampshire condo on May 1, 1990. The 24-year-old insurance agent had been shot in the head.

As police investigated the crime, they began to focus on his wife, Pamela, then a 22-year-old media coordinator at a nearby school. Investigators soon learned that Pamela had been having an affair with an underage student, William "Billy" Flynn.


Flynn admitted that he was the gunman, but maintained that he did it at the direction of Pamela Smart — an allegation that Smart has long denied.

After Flynn pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, he testified against his former lover.

The case quickly became international news, and even helped inspire the 1996 Nicole Kidman movie To Die For. The question at the center of the case: Was the pretty young widow responsible for her husband's murder? A jury thought so, and she was convicted on March 22, 1991. She has remained in jail ever since.

In previous appeals, Smart maintained that she did not know that Flynn was going to kill her husband. In the most recent appeal, however, she took responsibility for his death and apologized to his family.

"I offer no excuses for my actions and behavior," Smart said in a recorded statement that was sent as a DVD to the attorney general's office in December. "I'm to blame."

"I regret that it took me so long to apologize to the Smart family, my own family, and everyone else," she continued. "But I think that I wasn't at a place where I was willing to own that or face that. I was young and selfish and I wasn't thinking about the consequences of what I was doing."

Courtesy of AMS Pictures

But the state wasn't satisfied and denied the request.

In the state's response, Jeffery Strelzin, associate attorney general, wrote that Smart has told a false narrative for over 30 years and just because she's decided to change that now "does not mean that she has truly changed and fully acknowledged all the crimes she committed as an accomplice and conspirator in her husband's murder, and the perpetrator of witness tampering."

"Decades of lies cannot be undone in an instant by newfound claims of remorse and a vague acceptance of responsibility," wrote Strelzin.

Smith told PEOPLE in 2017 that she felt that the massive publicity surrounding her case hurt her chances of getting out of jail. In particular, she pointed the finger at Kidman's performance in To Die For.

"Nicole Kidman never came to see me," Smart said. "She never spoke to me. She never tried to find out anything to the contrary of, you know, the script that they gave her. And that she played a one-dimensional character."

"It was embarrassing," Smart continued. "I mean, she played me as like a complete airhead. And I'm not that person. So it's hard because I'm constantly hated for being something. I'd probably hate myself if I didn't know myself, based on what they say."

It's unclear when the New Hampshire Executive Council will respond to the latest petition. Sisti could not be reached for comment.

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