Pamela Smart Denied Release from Prison Nearly 32 Years After Her Teen Lover Killed Her Husband
Pamela Smart, a former high school employee serving a life sentence for recruiting her teenage lover to kill her husband, will remain in jail after she was denied a sentence reduction last week.
Smart, now 54, has been appealing her conviction for decades. PEOPLE confirms that her request was rejected in a 5-0 vote by a New Hampshire state council.
Smart's case was one of the biggest crime stories of the early 1990s.
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, 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."
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 Nicole 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 whether Smart has other options to get out of jail. For now she will continue serving her sentence in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, a maximum security prison in Westchester County, N.Y.