By Susan Morse
Hampton Union, Friday, April 4, 2003
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
CONCORD - Raymond Fowler, 31, of Seabrook, convicted in connection to the murder of Gregory Smart in 1990, is free on parole following a review by the state parole board yesterday.
The decision by the three-member board was expected. At a parole hearing in late November, Chairman Thomas D. Winn said parole was likely for Fowler in three months if Fowler stayed the course. Fowler was ordered to a halfway house for 90 days. He has been living at the house on prison property.
"He has been through a halfway house and he has done everything he was supposed to do," Winn said Thursday. "After a review of the file, the board will give the privilege of parole."
Fowler, sitting before the board, hands folded on the table, wearing a green sweater, jeans and sneakers, had little reaction. His family, sitting in the front row, voiced their relief and approval in low whispers.
"It’s been a long road," said his mother Paula Fowler of Seabrook after the hearing. "It’s like crossing a bridge and getting on the other side."
"I’m very, very pleased," said Phila Sturgis of Seabrook, Fowler’s grandmother. "I think he’s got a great future, the whole town is behind him."
George Iverson, a new board member since Fowler came up for parole in November, said one of the reasons he voted for parole was because Gregory Smart’s father took no position to Fowler’s motion for a modification of the sentence.
After the hearing Winn said, "He (Fowler) never made any excuses, never said he was not at fault."
As conditions of parole, Fowler needs permission to get a motor vehicle and must refrain from alcohol or drug use. He also must provide a written parole plan stating where he will be living and working.
"If you lie to the parole officer and get caught and found guilty by any members of the board, I can assure you, you will be guaranteed a set-back," Winn told Fowler.
In Fowler’s file were two "D" marks, said board member Nick Hart, who asked what they were for. Fowler said he was supposed to call his parole officer at 2 p.m. and when he looked at the time it was 3:30 p.m.
Hart then asked Fowler how old he was when he first began his sentence.
"I just turned 19," Fowler said. "I will be 32 in September."
"It’s been a long time," said Hart.
"Yes it has," Fowler replied.
Fowler was convicted in 1992 on conspiracy to murder and burglary charges. He has been in prison for 12 years, serving consecutive 7½- to 15-year sentences. He was paroled on the murder conspiracy charge in 1998.
Fowler was 18 in 1990 when, according to court records, he waited in a car while his 15-year-old friend William Flynn shot Gregory Smart to death in the Derry condominium Smart shared with his wife, Pamela. Flynn had been having an affair with Pamela Smart, then a 22-year-old media coordinator at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton.
Fowler, Flynn and Winnacunnet High School students Patrick Randall and Vance Lattime were all convicted in connection with Gregory Smart’s murder. Fowler wasn’t in school at the time of the murder. He is the first to be paroled. Pamela Smart is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Fowler has had no contact with his former friends, he said in November.
Fowler’s brother Robert, 36, of Seabrook attended the hearing. Fowler also has another brother who lives in Seabrook.
Robert Fowler was asked what his brother has told him about the night of Gregory Smart’s murder.
"I think in his mind that he went there to steal stuff," Robert Fowler said. "In hindsight, I don’t think he expected his friends to be doing something like that."
Fowler said his brother waited in the car that night, at one point going to a pizza place for something to eat.
Sturgis said that her grandson has changed since being in prison.
"He’s gotten stronger," she said. "He went in as a kid and now he’s a man, taking care of a son in Texas."
Fowler’s 12-year old son and the mother of his son are living in Texas.
Sturgis said she is writing a book that will tell the truth about what happened.
Asked how she felt about Gregory Smart’s father having no opinion on the parole, Sturgis said, "Mr. Smart knows more than other people did. He knew he (Fowler) was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"It doesn’t seem real," said Raymond Fowler’s mother, Paula. "It doesn’t seem like we have him home."
Fowler’s father died when Raymond was 6, according to Sturgis.
Sturgis gave no information on where Fowler will be living and working once he is released from the halfway house. Fowler is expected to live in the halfway house for two weeks to 30 days until his parole plan is set.
Winn said after the hearing that Fowler’s parole will likely continue until July 2013, the time of his maximum prison sentence. Winn doubted the length of parole would be reduced due to the "nature of the crime," he said.
Fowler, who has become an accomplished furniture maker while in prison, told the board he has been working at a menial job in the area since living in the halfway house. He said he was going to stay in the area and work at the same job until he can get a license and save enough money to buy a car.
Hart asked Fowler if he had the support of family.
"The whole front row," Fowler said.
"Good luck to you," Hart said to Fowler as Fowler was led out of the hearing room.
In November, Winn, who heads the three-member parole board, said that Fowler’s discipline record in prison had been good and that he had received favorable recommendations for parole.
Fowler’s minimum parole date, according to parole board records, was Jan. 28, 2003. If he served the maximum time, he would be released in 2013. Should he be arrested even for a minor offense, Winn said in November, Fowler could serve the rest of the time.