Pamela Smart, serving life, accepts responsibility for husband’s 1990 murder for the first time

Pamela Smart makes a statement at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, N.Y.
Pamela Smart, in an image from her May 1 video statement, was a high school staff member when she became involved with an underage student who later fatally shot her husband in Derry, N.H.
(Hard Working Movies via Associated Press)
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Pamela Smart, who is serving life in prison for plotting with her teenage student to have her husband killed in 1990, accepted full responsibility for his death for the first time in a videotaped statement released Tuesday as part of her latest request for a reduced sentence.

Smart, 56, was a 22-year-old high school media coordinator when she began an affair with a 15-year-old boy who later fatally shot her husband, Gregory Smart, in Derry, N.H. The shooter was freed in 2015 after serving a 25-year sentence. Though Pamela Smart denied knowledge of the plot, she was convicted of being an accomplice to first-degree murder and other crimes and sentenced to life without parole.

Smart has been incarcerated for nearly 34 years. In the videotaped statement, she said she began to “dig deeper into [her] own responsibility” through a writing group that encouraged inmates “to go beyond and to spaces that we didn’t want to be in.”


“For me, that was really hard, because going into those places, in those spaces is where I found myself responsible for something I desperately didn’t want to be responsible for: my husband’s murder,” she said, her voice quavering. “I had to acknowledge for the first time in my own mind and my own heart how responsible I was, because I had deflected blame all the time, I think, almost as if it was a coping mechanism, because the truth of being so responsible was very difficult for me.”

Jurors who convicted Pamela Smart of seducing a 15-year-old boy and persuading him to kill her husband said Saturday that tapes secretly recorded by another teen-ager led them to find her guilty.

March 24, 1991

She asked to have an “honest conversation” with New Hampshire’s five-member Executive Council, which approves state contracts and appointees to the courts and state agencies, and with Gov. Chris Sununu. Smart has exhausted all of her judicial appeal options and has to go through the council for a sentence change.

The council rejected a previous request, her third, in 2022, and Smart appealed to the state Supreme Court, which dismissed her petition last year.

Val Fryatt, a cousin of Gregory Smart, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Smart had only “danced around” accepting responsibility “without admitting the facts around what made her ‘fully responsible.’”

Fryatt noted that Smart didn’t mention the victim’s name in the video, “not even once.”

Messages seeking comment on the petition and statement were sent to the council members, Sununu and the state attorney general’s office.

“New Hampshire’s process for commutation or pardon requests is fair and thorough,” Sununu’s office said in a statement. “Pamela Smart will be given the same opportunity to petition the Council for a hearing as any other individual.”


“I will look into it,” Councilor Joseph Kenney responded in an email. “It’s not on my radar screen as of yet.”

A high school teacher was convicted Friday and sentenced to life in prison without parole after a sensational trial on charges that she manipulated her student lover into murdering her husband.

March 23, 1991

Smart is serving time at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, N.Y. She has earned a doctorate in ministry and three master’s degrees while behind bars. She has also tutored fellow inmates, been ordained as a minister and been part of an inmate liaison committee. She said she is remorseful and has been rehabilitated.

“I made excuses, dismissed my own involvement, and blamed everyone else but myself,” Smart wrote in her letter to Sununu. She said she had previously become “comfortable in [her] warped logic” that because she wasn’t there the night of the murder and didn’t pull the trigger, she wasn’t responsible.

She added, “I am the one to blame for his absence from this world.”

Smart’s longtime lawyer, Mark Sisti, said the petition was filed last week.

“We’re trying to impress upon the governor and council that we believe this is the time for them to actually listen to her,” he said. “If they have any questions, she’s more than happy to answer any of the questions that they may have.”

A tearful Pamela Smart, already serving a life term without parole for enticing her youthful lover to murder her husband, on Monday was sentenced for additional offenses.

May 7, 1991

Nearly 30 letters of support, many from people in the corrections system, were included in her petition.

“She is the true definition of a rehabilitated, improved and refined human being,” Edward Gibbs, a member of the New York State Assembly, wrote in his letter, dated March 14.


The trial was a media circus and one of America’s first high-profile cases about a sexual affair between a school staff member and a student.

Joyce Maynard wrote the novel “To Die For” in 1992, drawing from the case. That inspired a 1995 film of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix. The killer, William Flynn, and three other teens cooperated with prosecutors. They have all since been released.

Flynn testified that Smart had told him she needed her husband killed because she feared she would lose everything if they divorced. He said she had threatened to break up with him if he didn’t kill Gregory Smart.

McCormack writes for the Associated Press.