Pamela Smart denied freedom 30 years after sensation trial that inspired Nicole Kidman movie ‘To Die For’

Pamela Smart, whose conviction for recruiting her teen lover to kill her husband inspired a book and a Nicole Kidman movie, was denied a sentence reduction on Wednesday.

Smart’s high-profile trial inspired Joyce Maynard to write “To Die For” in 1992, drawing from her case, which was in turn adapted into a 1995 movie starring Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix.

Smart, now 54, has exhausted all her judicial appeal options.

She was found guilty of recruiting 15-year-old high school student William Flynn and three other teenagers, to shoot and kill husband Gregory Smart in 1990 when she was a 22-year-old high school media coordinator.

She was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes and sentenced to life without parole.

On 1 May 1990, Flynn and the three others planned and executed the murder of Smart’s husband, who was killed by a shot to the head.

Flynn and the other three teens cooperated with prosecutors and have since been released after serving shorter sentences.

On Wednesday, a New Hampshire state council rejected her request for sentence reduction in a 5-0 vote.

Refusing her commutation request, councilor Janet Stevens said she was “absolutely convinced that there’s no evidence or argument” for a sentence reduction.

This was the third time Smart had appealed to the council for a hearing.

In her appeal, she had cited pardons granted to three other women in New Hampshire in murder cases, reported Fox News.

But the state said those cases involved less serious second-degree murder charges and the other women did not entice a juvenile to commit murder.

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While Smart had earlier denied knowledge of the plot to kill her husband, she offered an apology to his family for the first time.

“I offer no excuses for my actions and behaviour,” she said in a recorded statement sent 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. 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,” she further said.

Associate attorney general Jeffery Strelzin, who opposed her sentence reduction, said in the state’s response that she had written a false narrative for 30 years.

He said just because Smart has changed her narrative 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”.

Eleanor Pam, a spokesperson for Smart, said the council’s decision was “disappointing”.

She added that the evidence presented on Smart’s behalf was “overwhelming, and any fair reading of it by fair-minded persons should have resulted in a hearing”.

Smart’s husband’s family said that they were not convinced by her apology.

“In her petition, she apologizes to those ‘impacted by [her] actions and misjudgment’ and admits that it took her decades to accept this responsibility,” said Val Fryatt, a cousin of Gregory Smart.

“She needs to define what those actions and misjudgment truly represent. When she is ready to apologize and truly admit to the crimes she committed, our ears are wide open (sic).”

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The trial had attracted widespread media attention as it involved the relationship between a high school employee and a student.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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