By Susan Morse
Hampton Union, Sunday, May 7, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Billy Flynn may not have been the trigger man, nor was he a sexually innocent teen seduced into killing Pam Smart's husband, according to the findings in a 24-page report published last month by journalism students at Keene State College.
The students spent a year investigating the 1990 murder case.
They gained access to reports not made public at the trial, such as the testimony of convicted accomplice Raymond Fowler of Seabrook, who was never called to the stand.
The students looked through crime scene documents and trial transcripts. They spent much time trying to gain access to what they believed was public information, according to project editor Patrick Crowley.
"We turned in 57 Freedom of Information requests to the state attorney general," Crowley said. "I can't recall any of those that were accepted."
Their findings were published in a special edition of the student newspaper, The Equinox. Called "Justice in New Hampshire," it featured the gun used to kill Gregory Smart on the cover.
The local case gained national attention in 1991, when the Keene students were still in grammar school. Crowley was 7 and has only vague recollections of the televised trial.
"The biggest thing we found, it's still very much a sore spot for the state of New Hampshire," said Crowley, of Walpole. "Fifteen years later, it's still a polarizing issue. People feel strongly. (There are) those who feel Pam Smart was behind this the entire time, and the people who feel she's innocent."
Students interviewed Smart, who is serving a life sentence without parole for first-degree murder at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Bedford, N.Y.
They also spoke to Smart's mother, Linda Wojas, her defense attorney, Mark Sisti, prosecutor Paul Maggiotto, Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Douglas Gray, Fowler, who is out on parole, and his family.
They interviewed Vance "J.R." Lattime, off the record. Lattime, who was recently paroled, was found guilty of supplying the gun used in the murder and the getaway car.
They did not get a response from William Flynn or Patrick Randall. Both are still serving murder sentences in Maine State Prison.
On May 1, 1990, Seabrook friends Flynn, 16, Randall, 17, Fowler, 18, and Lattime, 17, drove to Derry to the condominium Smart shared with his wife. Pamela, 22, a media coordinator at Winnacunnet High School, was seeing Flynn.
Flynn and Randall went inside of the home and found Gregory Smart alone. According to tearful testimony given by Flynn on the stand, he shot the husband.
The prosecution portrayed Pam Smart as the cold-blooded mastermind who controlled her young lover.
Their case was helped by Pam, who gained the moniker "Ice Princess" for her emotionless testimony, and from damning wiretapped conversations between Pam and student confidante Cecelia Pierce.
Flynn admitted his guilt and testified against Pam.
The love motive worked for the prosecution, defense attorney Mark Sisti told Equinox reporter Rebecca Roy.
Sisti maintains his argument that it was Randall who shot Gregory Smart.
"After 14 years, without any question in my mind," he told Roy last year.
During the trial, Randall said his life's ambition was to be a "professional hit man," according to Roy.
Sisti told her Flynn could not describe in detail how the shot was fired. There is also some question as to Flynn being left-handed and the ballistics report showing the gun was fired by a right-handed person, according to Roy.
"I'm telling you," said Sisti to Roy, "Flynn didn't fire the weapon. He felt guilty. He felt responsible. If it had been discovered that Randall was the killer, then the prosecutor's theory falls apart."
Prosecutor Paul Maggiotto told Roy he did not see that Flynn or Randall had anything to gain by lying about their roles in the murder.
"Patrick Randall was a little more cold-blooded," he admitted.
At the trial, Flynn presented himself as a virgin whose first intimate partner was Pam, Smart's mother, Linda Wojas, told Roy.
"I didn't think Bill was a virgin. He had told me he had been with this girl. ... During the trial was the first time I heard otherwise," Pam Smart told the student reporters.
Robert Fowler, Raymond's brother, also told the reporters Flynn had a number of sexual encounters.
Crowley said he and students found no "ground-breaking" evidence in their research.
"The biggest thing that comes out (is) I think the fact Bill wasn't a virgin, and (Patrick Randall) could have gone for his own self. There's not any definite conclusions."
One major obstacle in their report was obtaining documents from the state, Crowley said.
They were unable to obtain such documents as the past criminal records, if any, of the three boys who testified, Crowley said. They were told it was because they were juveniles.
The students began their investigation in the class of Public Affairs Reporting instructor Marianne Salcetti.
She initiated the investigation after seeing a news story about Pam Smart asking the state for a pardon.
"We wanted a copy of the petition filed," Salcetti said. "We didn't get it until the summer (six months later). They (students) became motivated as to why so many doors were being closed to us in the Pamela Smart trial."
After a year of investigation, Crowley thinks Smart should be eligible for parole.
"We're going to have all these boys out and she's going to be in there for life. I don't think that's right," he said. "The more I look at, it still gets confusing. The biggest thing I think about now is how, years later, it seems to be a polarizing issue."