By Amy Wallace, Portsmouth Herald Staff Writer
The Portsmouth Herald, Sunday, July 30, 2000
[The following article is courtesy of The Portsmouth Herald and Seacoast Online]
In a rare interview, Pamela Smart spoke to the Portsmouth Herald about what her life is like 10 years after she was arrested in the murder of her husband Gregg. After spending a decade in prison, Smart continues to profess her innocence; in fact, she is seeking a new trial. Her attorneys have filed a habeas corpus in New York; however, it must be heard in New Hampshire.
"I have spent 10 years in prison for a crime I had no involvement in," Smart said. "I have been horribly punished for having an affair. (Smart admitted during her trial to having an affair with then-16-year-old student William Flynn, who was subsequently convicted of firing the shot that killed her husband.) The sentence I received is, in effect, a sentence of death in that I will never be eligible for parole."
Smart was arrested on Aug. 1, 1990. She is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole after her conviction of being an accomplice to first-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband. Smart is currently serving her sentence at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Bedford Hills, N.Y.
Smart said she regrets past actions that may have affected the outcome of her case.
"Of course, I regret ever being involved with Bill Flynn," Smart said. "That was a horrible mistake that I am paying a terrible price for, as I am innocent of any involvement in the plot to murder Gregg."
She described the past 10 years of her life as "stressful, sad, painful and tragic."
"Yes, I made the mistake of having an affair with Bill Flynn, but I wish the public would stop defining me by that one mistake," Smart said. "There is more to me than my worst error in judgment."
Smart said she fulfills herself in prison through her educational goals.
Smart's mother, Linda Wojas, said her daughter received the Sam Howard Scholarship, which is available only to inmates of correctional facilities. As a result of the scholarship, she was able to obtain a certificate in criminal justice from the University of Alabama.
Smart is currently working on a master's degree in English literature, another advanced degree in law, as well as a teaching apprenticeship from the New York State Department of Labor.
Wojas said her daughter spends her time teaching algebra to her fellow inmates, and tutors prisoners for their GED.
"She is in a horrific situation with a sentence of despair and no chance of parole," Wojas said. "And yet, her will is so good and strong. She's taking negatives and turning them into positives."
A couple of years ago, Smart was attacked in prison. She suffered a fracture of her left eye socket, which required plastic surgery. Because her eye socket was broken, Smart now has a plate in her head and she has no feeling on the left side of her face, her mother said.
Last year, Smart had surgery on the back of her knee because she was also kicked during that fight and a cyst formed at the site of her injury.
Smart said she misses her husband, but when asked what her relationship was like with him, she refused comment.
"That's one thing I would like left private," Smart said.
Despite years of incarceration, the strength to which Wojas referred has gained Smart new supporters.
When Dr. Eleanor Pam, professor at John J. College of Criminal Justice in New York, first met Smart, Pam said she thought the former Winnacunnet High School media coordinator was guilty of murdering Gregg. She said she has since changed her mind.
"I have come to believe that she is not guilty and that she hasn't had a fair trial," Pam said. "I consider her as someone to whom I am happy to extend a friendship."
Smart's case has been rehashed by the media numerous times, and she said she has been treated with bias and negativity since her incarceration.
"I am very different from the media's portrayal of me," she said. "I am not a cold, uncaring individual."