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At the end of the day, Pamela Smart was as close as it got to being the adult in the room.
The school media director from small-town New Hampshire—the original inspiration for Nicole Kidman‘s breakout turn as a sociopathic local weathergirl with Barbara Walters-level aspirations in To Die For—was 23 years old in 1991, when she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for conspiring to murder her husband.
William “Billy” Flynn, who physically pulled the trigger and testified against Smart at trial, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years to life, with the option to shave 12 years off if he behaved himself in prison. He was released in 2015.
Billy was also only 16 when he fatally shot 24-year-old Gregory Smart, and Pamela was judged to be the master manipulator who coerced the teenager she’d been having sex with to kill her husband.
“I have been portrayed as ice princess, a black widow, a killer, and none of those things could be further from the truth,” Smart, who still denies having anything to do with Gregg’s murder and has filed numerous unsuccessful appeals, told ABC News in a prison interview that aired on 20/20 in January 2020.
When she married Gregg at 21, she was “very much in love” with him and envisioned them having children together. But, she admitted, she also developed real feelings for Billy.
“I cared for him,” she explained. “I had feelings. People act like I just used him and went lurking through the school looking for somebody to manipulate. And it was just really wasn’t even like that.”
“What happened to Gregg is the most horrible thing I’ve ever gone through in my life,” Pamela also said, “and I’m still haunted every day by memories of what must have happened to him inside our house before he was killed. Although I wasn’t there, I feel that because of that I’ll never know how Gregg was feeling at the time. I keep thinking of how afraid he must have been and how senseless this whole tragedy was. A lot of the times, I still can’t even believe that he’s gone.”
The Truth Behind Our Obsession With True Crime Stories
Pamela Wojas met Gregg Smart at a New Year’s Eve party in New Hampshire at the end of 1986 while she was on winter break from college, bonding over a shared love of rock ‘n’ roll. In high school, Pam was a cheerleader, class president and an honors student, but she also loved heavy metal music and partying, as did Gregg.
“I decided Gregg was the one for me early on in our dating relationship,” Smart said in the 2018 Investigation Discovery special Pamela Smart: An American Murder Mystery. “I was very much in love with him.” He decided to move to Tallahassee while she finished her communications degree at Florida State.
After two years of dating, they married on May 7, 1989, moved into a condo in Derry, N.H., and set up a picture-perfect life. They got a Shih Tzu and named him Haylen, a twist on Van Halen, one of their favorite bands.
But just months in, Gregg, who had gotten his act together and started selling insurance after their wedding, confessed to being unfaithful. Pam was a Type A personality who was fiercely organized and had figured out early on that she wanted more than the suburban housewife life. She has said that the admission of the one-night stand clouded her whole view of the marriage and made her want out.
Meanwhile, the former college radio host had taken a job as media services director for the Hampton School Board and harbored dreams of being a force in broadcasting. The more activities the merrier for Pamela, so in addition to teaching the kids about AV equipment and video production, she volunteered for Project Self Esteem, a drug- and peer-pressure awareness program at Winnacunnet High School, in Hampton.
And in early 1990, she started having sex with a WHS student named Billy Flynn.
Shortly after 10 p.m. on May 1, 1990, Smart told authorities that she returned from a school meeting in Hampton, about 35 miles away, to the Derry, N.H., condo she shared with Gregg, her husband of barely a year. She walked inside and found him lying face-down. A brass candlestick was lying near his left foot. His diamond-studded wedding ring and a wallet full of credit cards were under his body; a TV and stereo speakers were sitting by the back door.
“This all happened in a matter of not even a second, I think,” Smart said about coming home to the gruesome scene. “I remember seeing him and the candlestick.” She said she at first thought maybe he had been hit in the head, and that perhaps someone was still inside the house.
Screaming, “My husband!” over and over, she pounded on different neighbors’ doors until someone let her inside, while 911 calls were made from at least two nearby units.
Gregg was officially pronounced dead at the scene, killed by a single gunshot to the head, at 11:19 p.m. It was the first homicide to occur in Derry—population 32,000 at the time—that year.
But though the local cops weren’t consumed with murder cases, it didn’t take long for Derry Police Capt. Loring Jackson to determine that this didn’t look like a burglary gone wrong, as the clothes tossed around the closet and the electronics by the door to him appeared to be staged.
“No signs of a struggle,” Jackson, who died in 2003, said. “Burglars don’t usually fight. They don’t pack guns. There were red flags all over the place.” For him, those red flags included Smart’s behavior following the brutal murder of her husband, including her eagerness to sit down with police right away, in which she promptly surmised it was a burglary gone wrong; how quickly she granted media interviews; and how she walked right on top of the blood stains on the carpet when police brought her back a few days later to collect some of her things.
Everyone else walking through the place had given the blood stains a wide berth.
“Cold, calculating, manipulative, self-centered, totally unfeeling for anybody but herself,” Jackson told People in 1991.
And she talked so much to the press, Jackson recalled to Foster’s Daily Democrat a decade later that he stopped giving the family updates on the investigation.
“She set us back two weeks in just three days,” he lamented. “It was so bad, I told her she was hindering the investigation…I froze out the family entirely. I didn’t want to see things on Channel 9 that I didn’t want to see on Channel 9.”
But the detectives chugged along, and Smart was arrested on Aug. 1, 1990.
Their big break came when, six weeks after Gregg was shot, Vance Lattime Sr.—whose son Vance “J.R.” Lattime Jr. was a friend of Billy Flynn—brought his his .38 caliber revolver to the Seabrook Police station, telling authorities that one of his son’s friends had told him it may have been used to kill Gregg Smart.
The ballistics were a match. The bullet that killed Gregg had definitely been fired from that gun.
AP Photo/Marc Mcgeehan
Flynn, a 15-year-old sophomore when he first glimpsed a 22-year-old Smart at a school assembly in 1989, was instantly smitten, according to Stephen Sawicki‘s 1991 book about the case, Teach Me to Kill. “‘I’m in love,'” he supposedly told his pal J.R. right then and there.
“I thought he was a good kid,” Smart said. “He was easy to talk to, friendly. He liked some of the same music I liked. He played the guitar.”
He also still had the shaggy hair and rock ‘n’ roll sensibility that Gregg had when she first met him.
Billy wasn’t the only one enamored with Pamela. So, too, albeit platonically, was student Cecelia Pierce, who was assigned to be Smart’s intern and promptly idolized the smart, ambitious and not all that much older advisor. The two became friends and Pamela would have the teen over to her condo for dinner, usually when Gregg wasn’t there.
Smart started spending time with both Cecelia and Billy together, at first to work on a video project but it turned into a lot of extracurricular hanging out.
“I feel like if that had not happened,” “that” being her husband’s affair, “I wouldn’t have gotten involved with somebody else,” Smart told the Washington Post in January 2019 amid a renewed effort to have her sentence commuted to give her a chance at parole. Since going to prison, she has earned two master’s degrees and worked as a teacher’s aide. As of that article’s publication, she was working on a doctorate in ministry and serving as a grievance representative and HIV-prevention counselor for fellow inmates.
“Sometimes I find answers,” she mused. “Sometimes I think I don’t even understand my own self.”
Smart added, “It was easy to cast me into that role of the femme fatale and leave it at that.”
Joyce Maynard‘s 1992 novel To Die For was inspired by the Smart case and the central character is guilty as sin. Gus Van Sant‘s 1995 darkly comedic film of the same name captures the vibe accordingly, from the generically fashionable condo where Kidman’s ruthlessly ambitious Suzanne Stone-Maretto lives with her husband Larry (played by Matt Dillon) and their small dog to the insecure, Suzanne-idolizing Lydia (Alison Folland) and the hopelessly tragic teen murderer Jimmy (played Joaquin Phoenix in his first role since 1989’s Parenthood).
The real case had already been packaged many times: in endless news coverage, some of which Smart readily participated in; the first trial to be televised in full by Court TV; a CBS movie, Murder in New Hampshire, starring Helen Hunt and Chad Allen as Pamela and Billy; and multiple true-crime books. Subsequently, in To Die For, the events in question are being recalled by those close to the tragedy for a documentary crew.
With broad satirical strokes, Van Sant unambiguously (and, as far as the direction of the world has gone, presciently) leaned into Suzanne’s obsession with being famous and how that, more than anything else, drove her to get her teen boy-toy to kill. Larry wasn’t a cheater, but rather an average guy who was content to stay in his hometown, living a block away from his parents, work a day job, hang out with his buddies and have kids and a wife who stayed home—an offense punishable by death in Suzanne’s eyes.
Kidman was already a star, but To Die For brought Mrs. Tom Cruise into the serious-thespian conversation, with the Golden Globe win—Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy—and a lot of chatter about an Oscar nomination that never came to pass (definitely qualifies as a snub) to show for it.
When the opportunity came along, “no one thought I could do it and I think the studio didn’t want me and it sort of went through another bunch of actors,” Kidman recalled in a conversation with Casey Affleck (who played Jimmy’s hapless accomplice) for Variety‘s Actors on Actors series in 2016. “I said, ‘Please, give me the chance. I beg you.’ Because the writing was so strong. [Screenwriter] Buck Henry—I mean, come on. Talk about great writing.”
Meg Ryan, in fact, was Van Sant’s first choice, but Kidman called him at home and convinced him that she was the woman for the part. Just as Suzanne would’ve done. (A little flattery didn’t hurt—she told the filmmaker she had wanted to work with him since seeing Drugstore Cowboy, which also starred Dillon.)
“She said she felt destined to play this part,” Van Sant told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “And that kind of set me aback. But I felt that if she felt destined to play it, she would work harder than you normally would. She was so convinced that she would be the best choice that that was enough. I figured we could work it out.”
But while in that pre-ubiquitous-Internet era it was largely treated as an adaptation of a novel, with parenthetical mentions about being loosely inspired by the Pamela Smart case, the film understandably was personal to Smart.
“I would say to Nicole Kidman that she’s an acclaimed actress and I believe she’s a good person,” Smart said in a 2015 interview for the Reelz series Murder Made Me Famous. “She has a family. She has children and that as a mother, she should take a look at the character that she’s playing.
“She never came to see me. 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.” Smart continued, “It was embarrassing. 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.”
Kidman actually played Suzanne as terrifyingly shrewd and calculating. Maybe she mistook the unquenchable desire to be on TV for a certain lack of intellect, but seeking fame has become serious business.
“You’re not anybody in America unless you’re on TV,” Suzanne says in the film. “On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what’s the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody’s watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person.”
So, incidentally, Maynard, Henry and Van Sant predicted the future.
“[I] didn’t have a clue that it would be as interesting as it is today,” Van Sant told Paper magazine in 2015. “It was a year before I would witness my assistant send an email. So a lot was on the way. It was cable TV at the time that was the media bonanza.”
By the time he was shooting the film, media circuses had also sprung up in the 1990s around the trials and tribulations of Lyle and Erik Menendez, Michael Jackson, Tonya Harding and O.J. Simpson—who was found not guilty of murder on Oct. 3, 1995, three days before To Die For opened in theaters.
To prepare for the role once she got it, “I checked into a hotel, ordered room service, watched TV for three days and went completely nuts doing it,” Kidman told the LA Times when the film came out. “The hypnotic effect of television is just extraordinary. The way in which it gets into you… you can’t turn it off.
“Watching all those talk shows, all the yelling. You’re like this first [she opened her eyes wide] it’s everything you look down your nose at and then you’re [mock–screams] doing everything the audience is doing. You have to go ‘Whoa!’ That’s how I understood [Suzanne]. That’s what she’s been raised on. So she’s a victim of society, a victim of that.”
Though she didn’t meet with Smart, and it’s unclear how familiar she was with the source’s source material, it was communicated that Kidman felt protective of Suzanne, in that she saw the human being behind the relentlessness. Van Sant, however, reportedly wanted his villainous heroine to be 100-percent single-minded, her ferocious ambition the first evidence of damage.
“I’m vicious in it, totally vicious!” Kidman assured the Times. “It’s wonderful to be able to be that vicious.”
In the end, Suzanne Stone Maretto thought she got away with it, but her husband’s family made sure she didn’t.
Pamela Smart, meanwhile, has been in prison for 30 years, and not everyone is convinced that’s right—not necessarily because she’s innocent, but because everyone else associated with the crime has since gone free.
Prominent women’s rights activists including Gloria Steinem and The Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler have written to the state of New Hampshire on Smart’s behalf. And count Joyce Maynard among the many people who think Smart shouldn’t be spending the rest of her life in prison.
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“At the time the jury reached its verdict in the Smart case, my novel was a full year away from publication,” the To Die For author wrote in a letter to then-New Hampshire Gov. (now Sen.) Maggie Hassan in 2015. “But if the existence of the film and adaptation of the book has contributed in any way to a public perception of Pamela Smart as a ruthlessly ambitious killer, I will say: this was not my intent.”
“To whatever extent Pamela Smart’s chances for a fair parole hearing might have been affected by my novel,” she continued, “I trust that you will do what you can to rectify that situation by giving her the same second chance granted the others involved in the case.”
Smart petitioned for a sentence commutation in 2004, arguing that the black-widow narrative spun by the media and other assorted frenzied reporting obliterated her shot at a fair trial. Then-Gov. John Lynch and a five-member Executive Council denied her request for a hearing.
While a showing of remorse or acceptance of responsibility is usually part of the petition for a commutation, Smart says she simply didn’t want to admit to something she didn’t do.
But since then, she told the Post, she has come to feel responsible for Gregg’s death, to the extent that having an affair with Billy Flynn set the rest of the events in motion. “Had I not made that initial, horrible decision, nothing would have happened,” she said.
On May 14, 1990, two weeks after the murder, an anonymous female caller told Derry Police Detective Daniel Pelletier that she had heard from her co-worker at a local Italian restaurant, 15-year-old Cecelia Pierce, that the wife of a man killed a couple of weeks ago in his home had planned it. Pelletier recognized Pierce’s name from the compiling of known friends of the Smarts.
Pelletier’s colleague Detective Barry Charewicz first interviewed Cecelia on May 21 at her parents’ home in Seabrook. She denied knowing anything about any murder, but did share that she stayed at Pam’s condo the week before Gregg was killed.
But a list Smart had previously given to police of people who had recently been in the house, so they could register their fingerprints, did not include Cecelia. Pelletier and Charewicz found that odd.
When he went to police on June 10, 1990, Vince Lattime Sr. said that Ralph Welch, a close friend of his son J.R. who had been living with the Lattime family, told him that his gun may have been used to kill someone, and that’s when he saw it had been cleaned since the last time he used it
In police footage used in American Murder Mystery, Ralph explained to Charewicz that he was good buddies with J.R., Billy Flynn and another boy named Patrick Randall, who went by Pete.
Ralph told the detectives that Billy had been “going around bragging” about killing someone, but when he asked his pals if they were involved, they said no. When Ralph left the room, however, he heard them say “something about somebody being next.” So he walked back in and told them, “‘I can’t believe you guys lied to me about this.'”
Only then did they tell Ralph that they had killed Gregg Smart, he said, and that it had something to do with $500 in insurance money from Pam. After that, Ralph told J.R.’s dad about the gun.
The detectives quickly confirmed that Billy, J.R., Pete and Cecelia knew Pam, and each other, from Project Self-Esteem, which all freshmen were required to participate in. Then they found out that Pam had collected $140,000 from Gregg’s life insurance policy.
“He’ll always be a part of the decisions I make and the everyday things that I do,” a tearful Smart said of her late husband in one of her TV interviews in the weeks following the murder, her first having been with local station WMUR three days after the funeral.
After warrants were issued for Billy, J.R. and Pete’s arrest, the three boys turned themselves in. Their names were withheld at first, because they were minors, but their photos were not, so it was easy enough for the media to identify them.
“I can’t comment, Bill…I’m totally devastated by this,” Smart told WMUR reporter Bill Spencer when he showed up at her house with a crew to get her reaction to the arrests.
Spencer said in An American Murder Mystery that he found her reaction puzzling, since the arrest were seemingly good news.
The boys at first refused to talk, so Pelletier and Charewicz decided to take another crack at Cecelia. Their first sit-down, with her mother present, didn’t yield any fruit. But Cecelia had second thoughts, and the next day she returned to the station to talk.
In addition to overhearing them talking about the murder plot, an idea she claimed she never thought they’d actually go through with, Cecelia told the detectives she walked in on Billy and Pam having sex once.
With Billy, Pete and J.R. reluctant to talk, investigators first had Cecelia try to get Pamela to open up over her wiretapped telephone.
When that didn’t work, they asked Cecelia to wear a wire, and she ended up recording Pam telling her, “If you tell the f–king truth, you’ll send me to the slammer for the rest of my f–king life.” Smart also warned the girl, “If you tell the truth, you’re gonna be an accessory to murder.”
With the help of the seemingly damning statements captured by the wire, they had enough to arrest Pamela in connection with the murder of her husband.
The boys maintained their silence—until prosecutor Paul Maggiotto said he’d be charging them all as adults, meaning they’d be facing life in prison without parole. A few months later, they opted to cooperate.
Pamela admitted to having an affair with Billy, but insisted she in no way had anything to do with the plot to kill her husband. She continues to insist as much to this day, and has denied the details of her involvement provided by Billy and the others.
Her case preceded that of infamous school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau, who served more than seven years in prison for child rape before marrying her victim, former student Vili Fualaau. (They had two children together and separated a few times before finally divorcing in 2019. Letourneau died of cancer last year at the age of 58.) So the scandalous details of Smart and Flynn’s sexual relationship, unfolding as cable news was putting the final nails in the coffin of journalistic restraint, were unprecedentedly ripe for mass consumption.
The 2014 HBO documentary Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart, directed by Jeremiah Zagar, doesn’t make the case for Smart’s innocence, but rather focuses on the media frenzy and how it may have swallowed up the seeming presence of reasonable doubt, considering Smart was miles away when the act of murder was committed. The jury wasn’t sequestered until the second day of deliberations, and Billy, J.R. and Pete all had access to each other in jail during the trial.
Jon Pierre Lasseigne/AP/Shutterstock
According to what Billy told detectives and testified to at trial, Smart first had sex with him in late March of 1990 after inviting him and Cecelia over to watch a movie, the very R-rated 9 1/2 Weeks. She sent Cecelia out to walk her dog and took Billy upstairs. Only a few weeks went by, during which they continued to have sex, before Smart started telling Billy about how unhappy she was in her marriage and how he had to get rid of Gregg for her.
“‘If you loved me, you’d do this!,'” Flynn testified that Smart yelled at him. “I told her I did love her.”
“That’s when I started getting serious about it,” he said, “because I thought that if I do something like not go up or anything again, she’s gonna leave me and that’s gonna be it. So this is the time that I really started talking to J.R. and Pete about it.”
Pamela told Billy she’d share the insurance money with them, $500 a piece, he said, adding that she told them to make it look like a burglary.
“I think he’s having a problem remembering where reality began and the movie stopped,” Smart testified when she took the stand.
Pamela’s mother, Linda Wojas, told the Washington Post that at one point in the aftermath of Gregg’s death, her daughter was so distraught she took her to a mental health facility, but ultimately couldn’t bear to leave her there. “I thought I could take better care of her,” Wojas said. “I think I made a terrible mistake.”
Flynn testified that Smart told him she was afraid she would lose everything in a divorce, and she threatened to end their sexual relationship if he didn’t kill Gregg for her.
So, Billy said, he and Pete Randall entered the Smarts’ condo on the night of May 1, 1990, through the bulkhead doors to the basement that Pamela had left unlocked for them and waited for Gregg to come home.
They testified that, as Pete held a knife to Gregg’s throat, Billy shot the 24-year-old in the head.
Pete testified that he went along with it because he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.
He recalled on the stand demanding that Gregg give him the ring he was wearing, but Gregg refused. Pete told the court, “He said his wife would kill him.”
J.R., who had provided the murder weapon and said he bought bullets with money Pamela gave him, drove them to the house that night.
Another local boy, 18-year-old Raymond Fowler was in the car, as well; he said he waited out in the car with J.R. when Pete and Billy went inside, then cleaned the gun afterward.
But it was Cecelia, who had grown close enough to Pamela to win her confidence, who provided the gotcha moment for the prosecution.
“She just really was convinced that no one was going to listen to the boys over an adult,” Cecelia recalled to New Hampshire Magazine in 2016. (Pamela has said that, actually, she was putting one over on Cecelia and had been trying to elicit information from her while conducting her own investigation into her husband’s death. A friend of Gregg’s testified that Pamela was purposely trying to get Cecelia to share information with her.)
Like Billy, Pete pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was also sentenced to 40 years to life, minus 12 years for good behavior. J.R. pleaded as an accomplice to second-degree murder and was given 18 years to life; he was released in 2005. Ray Fowler, who pleaded to conspiracy to murder and attempted burglary, was sentenced to 30 years but got out in 2003. He violated the terms in 2004, was locked up again and then released in 2005.
Jon Pierre Lasseigne/AP/Shutterstock
On March 22, 1991, Pamela Smart was convicted of witness tampering, conspiracy to commit murder, and being an accomplice to first-degree murder—the last of which on its own carried a mandatory life sentence.
“I’m sorry if I reacted wrong, but nobody gave me the 22-year-old widow’s handbook,” she told the Boston Globe by phone from New Hampshire State Prison after the verdict, referring the characterizations of her behavior in the days immediately following Gregg’s murder as suspicious.
She admitted she was surprised she had been found guilty, thinking she’d either be acquitted or get a hung jury.
AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, Pool, File
“I will always feel terrible about what happened 25 years ago,” Billy said when he was granted parole on his 41st birthday in March 2015, after spending a year on work-release at a minimum-security facility in Maine. “Parole will not change that.”
While in prison, he earned his GED and an electrician’s assistant license, and got married, so he had a wife and teen stepdaughter waiting for him upon his release.
Pete was granted parole the following month.
“As far as I’m concerned, the only people that can forgive them [are] Gregg and God,” Gregg’s uncle James Smart said at Pete’s parole hearing in Concord, N.H., per Seacoast Online.
Questioned by one of Gregg’s cousins about his comment at trial about wanting to feel what it was like to kill someone, Pete replied, “I’ve felt the guilt for what I’ve done.” His mother almost died while he was in prison, he explained, and at the time he said to himself, “‘This is what [mortality] feels like.’ It gave me a slight inclination. I said, ‘That’s what it is.’ I only got a taste of it, but I see it. I only hope this brings closure of a sense.”
“No comparison at all,” Dean Smart, one of Greg’s two brothers, fired back at Pete, per Seacoast Online, saying maybe the two scenarios could have been comparable “if you had lost your mother and had books being made of it, movies being made, television show after television show.”
Moreover, Dean added, “Every time [Billy’s] been to court, he’s cried. I’ve seen you apologize once. I don’t see the remorse that Billy had.” (Dean had said at Billy’s parole hearing that he hoped, once free, he did “something great” with his life.)
Nevertheless, both Billy and Pete were released on June 4, 2015.
“I’m just going to try to do the best I can and provide for my family, and try to help my loved ones and build a solid base,” Pete said.
WMUR Television via AP, File
When Pete got paroled, a spokeswoman for Pamela released a statement condemning a system that, she said, had railroaded her client.
“To no one’s surprise, Pete Randall was granted parole today,” she stated. “Like Bill Flynn before him, his admission of murder gave him a double benefit: He is rewarded for taking responsibility for his actions—and then denies responsibility by blaming Pamela Smart for everything he did.”
“Randall and his pals laughed and sang joyfully in the car after killing Gregg Smart,” she continued. Eventually people will realize “that Pamela Smart is being punished for the sin, not the crime. Her obscene and punitive sentence is a scar on the justice system of New Hampshire. It is time to end the madness.”
Gregg’s family has said that, so long as Pamela wasn’t admitting to anything more than the affair, they couldn’t really forgive her. James Smart also noted, “Through this whole thing it’s always been about Pam and Billy. Everybody forgot about Gregg except for us.”
Ray Fowler told the Boston Herald in 2014 that he was torn as to how he felt about Smart still being in prison. That being said, he snickered at her longstanding claim of innocence. “We’re all innocent, ain’t we? That’s how it works,” he said. “Everybody who goes to jail is innocent.”
Ray took responsibility for his role in the crime, saying, “I made my own decisions. She didn’t make me do anything. The decisions I made, I did on my own. I ain’t going to put no blame on her. I took all the blame myself. I made the decisions I made. I made the choices I made and it put me where I was. I made the decision. She didn’t make me do anything.”
Already a petty thief with a record, Ray had testified that he was along for the ride because he thought they were going to go steal some stuff.
“I’m sure they are waiting for the governor to change,” Cecelia Pierce told New Hampshire Magazine in 2016, referring to Pamela’s legal team. “When I saw her trying to get her sentence reduced, it makes my blood turn cold.” And she too thinks Pamela needs to take responsibility for her husband’s death before anyone considers letting her out.
“If Pam could be 100 percent honest, I myself would recommend to the governor that she shouldn’t be in jail,” Cecelia said.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
As it stands right now, Pamela Smart isn’t getting out. She’s been at New York’s Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women, a maximum-security facility, since 1993. According to the Washington Post, she’s one of only four female prisoners from New Hampshire locked up outside her home state.
At Bedford Hills, she wasn’t allowed to wear her wedding ring, so she gave it to her mother for safe-keeping. “Why wouldn’t I?” she commented to the Post in 2019. “I mean, I’m still married.”
In response to her latest petition to have her sentence commuted to at least life with the possibility of parole, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has countered that she “places the blame for her crimes and her current predicament everywhere but where it belongs, squarely on herself.” (Per WMUR-TV, her 2019 request for a commutation hearing was denied.)
Smart also recalled sitting down for prison movie night back in the mid-’90s, only to find out the feature was To Die For.
“It’s almost like when you see a car accident and you think to yourself, ‘Why am I looking at this?'” she told the Post. “Later, the reality sinks in that people actually believe that because they’ve seen it on TV.”
She reiterated her thoughts on the film from a few years ago, saying Kidman portrayed her “as flaky, like an airhead. Ambitious to the point where she was willing to step on anybody who got in the way of her ambitions. In the movie she came across as very narcissistic. I’m so not that way at all.”
And those who believe in Pamela’s innocence are going to continue to try to get her out trying every legal lever possible.
“Did she make a terrible mistake? You bet,” her mom Linda Wojas told WMUR in March. “She sure did. Should she spend her life in prison for having an affair with a young man? Never.”
(Originally published April 20, 2019, at 3 a.m. PT)