Pamela Smart, the high school media coordinator convicted of getting her teenage lover to murder her husband, has repeatedly insisted that she’s innocent. She said so at the time on the witness stand. She has said so in various media interviews over the years. She repeated the innocence claims on a January 10, 2020 episode of ABC’s 20/20.
However, what did Smart do? Is Smart innocent? That depends on whether you believe the witnesses who testified against her at trial. What’s the evidence? Even if you discount the testimony of the three teenage co-actors who were actually at the murder scene and who got reduced sentences in exchange for their testimony against her, you still have to account for the tape recordings between Smart and a female student.
Billy Flynn was only a teenager when he found himself at the center of one of the century’s biggest and most salacious televised media trials. Flynn was the triggerman who killed a New Hampshire man named Greggory Smart, not Pamela, but he testified that Pam was the mastermind behind the plot. Flynn and Pamela Smart, then a 21-year-old school media coordinator in New Hampshire, had been having an affair.
Pamela Smart was convicted and became one of the most notorious convicted female murderers from the 1990s.
Today, the former school media coordinator remains in prison, where she is serving a life prison term without parole, and prosecutors have spoken out against her claims of innocence. The case was especially salacious because photos emerged of Smart posing in lingerie.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Three Teenage Boys Received Reduced Sentences for Testifying Against Smart
According to an Associated Press article in 1991, an 18-year-old man testified that he overheard “two other high school students describe how they helped a third student kill their teacher’s husband.”
That witness was Ralph Welch. He was speaking of Patrick Randall, then 17, and Vance Lattime, 19, who allegedly were involved when William “Billy” Flynn murdered Greg Smart.
Welch testified that Randall said sarcastically that he “wanted to be a hired assassin when he grew up.” He also allegedly told Welch that they said the Hail Mary before Smart was killed.
The AP story said the three teens admitted they were guilty in a plea bargain in exchange for testifying against Smart. Flynn, according to AP, testified that he lost his virginity to Smart. He also testified that Smart “told them to make the killing of her husband look as if her Derry apartment had been burglarized, and then ambush and shoot her husband.”
He also testified that she gave him money to buy bullets. Flynn testified he only killed Smart’s husband because “Pam threatened to break up with me.”
The defense denied that, according to the AP.
In another AP story that ran in Brattleboro Reformer in 1991, Greg Smart’s parents rejoiced when Pamela was found guilty of “planning, helping carry out and covering up the murder.” Judith Smart told AP that she became suspicious because the night her son was murdered, Pamela seemed more worried about checking on the dog.
A 1990 article in the Boston Globe described how Smart was at a school district meeting when her husband, an insurance salesman, returned home. He was shot in the head by Flynn, one of the three youths waiting for him. The newspaper reported that Pam Smart seemed “distraught.” She was a former honor student and cheerleader. She had a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Florida State University.
The Globe reported that after Greg’s murder Pamela “publicly criticized Derry police for discarding the burglary theory” and blamed the murder on “some jerk, some drug addict person looking for a quick 10 bucks.” She was accused of promising the suspects $14,000, 10 percent of her husband’s life insurance policy, according to the Globe article.
Her lawyers said the state’s case was “based entirely on rank hearsay, innuendo and the imaginations of young kids,” reported the Globe.
In a separate 1991 article in the Boston Globe, Randall’s testimony was described. He said that Smart was “beaten and forced to his knees with a butcher knife at his throat and a pistol inches from his head.” He pleaded for his life and that of his dog. He testified that it was Flynn, 16, who pulled the trigger, uttering “Forgive me, God.”
All three co-defendants implicated Smart but by doing so they avoided first-degree murder convictions that could result in life without parole. For example, Randall told the jury “he was promised a sentence of 40 years to life, with 12 years suspended, in exchange for testifying.”
The Most Damaging Evidence Came in the Form of Tape Recordings of Smart Speaking With a Female Student
According to an Associated Press article dated May 23, 1991 in the Daily Journal, the “most damaging evidence against Smart” came in the form of “four secretly recorded conversations” she had with Cecelia Pierce, 16, described as her “student intern and confidante.”
The Boston Globe reported that Smart “incriminated herself in the plot to kill her husband.” According to an AP article that ran in the Press and Sun-Bulletin in 1991, Pierce testified that Smart “told Bill not to kill Greg in front of the dog because it would traumatize the dog.”
Pierce also testified that Smart told her on the day of the slaying that “Bill was going to go up there and he was going to kill Greg.” Randall had testified also that “in a final planning session,” Smart didn’t want the teens to hurt the dog or get blood on the sofa.
For her part, according to a 1991 Boston Globe article, Smart testified that the recordings were “part of a strategy to learn more about the murder.” She testified, “In my mind, I thought I would play a game with her and tell her I knew more than I did about the murder,” the Globe reported.
The Globe described what some of the recorded conversations between Smart and Pierce said.
Smart said: “I’m afraid one day you’re gonna come in here and you’re gonna be wired by the (expletive) police, and I’m gonna be busted.”
“If you tell the truth you’re gonna have to send Bill, you’re gonna have to send Pete, you’re gonna have to send JR and you’re gonna have to send me to the (expletive) slammer for the rest of our entire life,” Smart said on the tape, according to The Globe.
Pierce then referenced a man who talked about the slayings, saying, “If Raymond hadn’t run his (expletive) mouth off, this would have been the perfect murder.”
“Right,” said Smart.
“Because we set everything up,” said Pierce. Smart agreed, according to the Globe and Pierce said, “To look like a burglary just like you said.”
In testimony, Pierce backed up Flynn’s account saying that Smart told her, “I have a choice: Either kill Greg or get a divorce,” the Globe reported.
Lattime testified that Smart “asked for tips on how to respond when she found the body,” said the Globe, which reported that he testified, “She didn’t know whether to scream, run from the house or call the police. We told her just to act normal.”
The Boston Herald recounted the details of the murder: Flynn and his accomplice, Pete Randall, broke into the Smart’s condo and, when Gregg Smart showed up, they forced him to his knees and Flynn shot him in the head, killing him. The evidence against Pamela Smart included audio tapes in which she told her intern to lie to the police so they wouldn’t all go to jail, although the tapes are said to be of poor quality and inaudible in places.
Billy Flynn Moved to Maine After Being Paroled in 2015
Billy Flynn was paroled in 2015. You can watch video from his parole hearing above. In March 2016, WMUR reported that Flynn, who was then 41-years-old, had spent 25 years behind bars. He was granted parole the first time he tried for it.
He told the Parole Board that he was ready to transition back into society. He was going to be a journeyman electrician and had been disciplinary action free for 10 years. He was urged by a parole board member to stay out of the media during parole
He expressed remorse to the board, saying, “I know that nothing I can say here today will be of comfort to the Smart family, but at the very least, I sincerely hope that this will be the last time they have to be publicly reminded of their grief, and I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused them.” He was labeled a model inmate who earned a college degree behind bars. His attorney called him an “exemplary inmate.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Flynn said, “I will always feel terrible about what happened 25 years ago. Parole will not change that.”
“I do feel a sense of responsibility to continually try to balance the scales that can’t be balanced,” Flynn said, according to WMUR, which added that he married his wife Kelly while incarcerated. “I will try to do something with my life that matters and makes a difference.”
In 2016, New Hampshire Magazine reported that Billy Flynn was living in Maine with his wife.
Pamela Smart maintains then and now that Flynn hatched the murder plot on his own because she had broken their relationship off.
William “Billy” Flynn’s friends have also been released from prison, according to Fox News.
According to the Boston Herald, Randall was also released from prison in 2015 and Smart, who has always said she was innocent, has earned two master’s degrees behind bars. There is a website seeking her freedom.
Vance Lattime Jr. and Raymond Fowler were in the car when the murder occurred and were also released. Smart was at a school board meeting when the murder unfolded. “This isn’t ‘Orange is the New Black,’ not even close,” Pamela Smart told New Hampshire Magazine of prison life.
READ NEXT: More on the Death of Greggory Smart.