Lawyer: Pamela Smart, serving life sentence, asks for hope

Feb 13, 2023, 8:22 PM | Updated: Feb 14, 2023, 10:49 am
Pamela Smart answers questions from the defense in her murder conspiracy trial March 18, 1991, in R...

Pamela Smart answers questions from the defense in her murder conspiracy trial March 18, 1991, in Rockingham County Superior Court in Exeter, N.H. A lawyer for Smart, who's serving a life-without-parole sentence for plotting with her teenage lover to kill her husband in 1990 says a state council "brushed aside" her request for a chance at freedom, and he's asked New Hampshire's highest court to order the panel to reconsider it. (AP Photo/Jon Pierre Lasseigne, File)

(AP Photo/Jon Pierre Lasseigne, File)

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A lawyer for Pamela Smart, who is serving a life-without-parole sentence for plotting with her teenage lover to kill her husband in 1990, argued Tuesday that a state council “brushed aside” her request for a chance at freedom, and asked New Hampshire’s highest court to order the panel to reconsider it.

Smart’s longtime attorney, Mark Sisti, argued the five-member council did not spend any time poring over Smart’s voluminous petition — which included many letters of support from inmates, supervisors and others — or even discuss it before rejecting her sentence reduction request in less than three minutes in March.

“I’m asking the only place I can go — the only place Pam can go — to say ‘Just Do Your Job,'” Sisti said.

Associate Justice James Bassett asked “And what does that mean? What are we going to say?”

To which Sisti replied: “A meaningful, minimal due process hearing that we even get at the Department of Motor Vehicles.”

Last year was the third time that Smart, who has served over 30 years in prison, had asked the Executive Council for a hearing. Now 55, she has exhausted all of her judicial appeal options and has to go through the council for a sentence change. Previous petitions were rejected in 2005 and in 2019.

Smart was 22 and working as a high school media coordinator when she began an affair with a 15-year-old student who later shot and killed her husband, Gregory Smart, in 1990. Though she denied knowledge of the plot, she was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes and sentenced to life without parole.

The teen, William Flynn, and three other teens, cooperated with prosecutors, served shorter sentences and have been released.

The trial was a media circus and one of the first high-profile cases about a sexual affair between a school staff member and a student. Joyce Maynard wrote “To Die For” in 1992, drawing from the Smart case. That inspired a 1995 film of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix.

The attorney general’s office opposed Smart’s commutation requests, saying she has never accepted full responsibility for the crimes.

Laura Lombardi, senior assistant attorney general, argued Tuesday that Smart “has no protectable constitutional interest in receiving commutation of her sentence” and that the case should not be before the court.

“This is a matter of mercy and grace, held by the executive branch,” she said.

Gov. Chris Sununu had the option of putting the commutation request on the council’s agenda, and did so, she said. She said there is no requirement for the governor and council to create rules regarding the process.

Sisti said a life-without-parole sentence should hitch onto something: hope.

“I’m asking that you give Pam Smart that little inkling, that little crack in the door where she can have hope,” he said.

In addition to earning two master’s degrees in a Bedford Hills, New York, prison, Smart has tutored fellow inmates, has been ordained as a minister and is part of an inmate liaison committee. In her last petition, she said she is remorseful and and has been rehabilitated. She apologized to Gregory Smart’s family.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

File - People shop at an Apple store in the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jerse...
Associated Press

A key inflation gauge tracked by the Fed slowed in February

The Federal Reserve's favored inflation gauge slowed sharply last month, an encouraging sign in the Fed's yearlong effort to cool price pressures through steadily higher interest rates.
2 days ago
FILE - The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output fr...
Associated Press

Musk, scientists call for halt to AI race sparked by ChatGPT

Are tech companies moving too fast in rolling out powerful artificial intelligence technology that could one day outsmart humans?
3 days ago
starbucks...
Associated Press

Starbucks leader grilled by Senate over anti-union actions

Longtime Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz faced sharp questioning Wednesday before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
4 days ago
FILE - The overdose-reversal drug Narcan is displayed during training for employees of the Public H...
Associated Press

FDA approves over-the-counter Narcan; here’s what it means

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved selling naloxone without a prescription, the first over-the-counter opioid treatment.
4 days ago
FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by people experiencing homelessness, March 11...
Associated Press

Seattle, feds seek to end most oversight of city’s police

  SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department and Seattle officials asked a judge Tuesday to end most federal oversight of the city’s police department, saying its sustained, decade-long reform efforts are a model for other cities whose law enforcement agencies face federal civil rights investigations. Seattle has overhauled virtually all aspects of its police […]
5 days ago
capital gains tax budgets...
Associated Press

Washington moves to end child sex abuse lawsuit time limits

People who were sexually abused as children in Washington state may soon be able to bring lawsuits against the state, schools or other institutions for failing to stop the abuse, no matter when it happened.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.
Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.
SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!
safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lawyer: Pamela Smart, serving life sentence, asks for hope