Prison a 'sentence without hope' for Pam Smart
By: Marie Bergeron
© Copyright 2007, Keene Equinox
Since March 22, 1991, prisoner 93GO456 has never seen the view beyond prison walls.
She has never seen hybrid cars or ipods. She has not voted in the last four elections. She has not blown out birthday candles or unwrapped Christmas presents under her family tree in almost 16 years.
She has however seen many aspects of prison life, including sexual assault, violence, harassment and involuntary protective custody.
Pam Smart is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for accomplice of first degree murder of her husband, Greg Smart. She is also serving time for conspiracy to commit murder, and witness tampering.
Pam Smart began her life sentence on March 22, 1991 in the Goffstown Prison for Women in Goffstown, N.H. Two years later she was transferred to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Bedford, N.Y. on March 11, 1993, for unclear reasons to her family.
Linda Wojas, Pam's mother, still has no idea why her daughter was moved. As soon as her transfer occurred Linda made an appointment with the Department of Corrections Commissioner, Ronald Powell. Powell resigned on June 15, 1993 and left the state to pursue a teaching career. Efforts to contact him were unsuccessful.
"I made an appointment with him [Powell], and when I asked him why he transferred my daughter, he said to me, 'I thought I did you a favor, I could have moved your daughter to Mississippi,'" said Wojas.
State officials have offered varying reasons why Pam was moved. Jeff Strelzin, senior assistant Attorney General's office, said Pam had a poor disciplinary record here in N.H, and that was why she was transferred. "People can be transferred all over the place, it has to do with following the rules…that's what you get when you don't obey," said Strelzin.
According to Jeff Lyons, N.H. Department of Corrections public information officer, Pam Smart received 22 disciplinary reports from 1991 to 1993 while in the Goffstown facility. Of those 22 reports, only two of them were major infractions, while the remaining 20 were minor.
Deputy Compact Administrator Denise Heath offered other reasons for the transfer of Pam Smart. She oversees handling prison transfers as well as maintaining contracts with other states. "I wasn't here at the time of her transfer, but it is my understanding that high publicity was the reason she was transferred," she said.
Heath said that at the time there was concern that someone would break her out. "Goffstown is very small, they felt that the facility was vulnerable," she said.
According to Wojas, she was told that there was no maximum security facility. However, Wojas maintains that the facility was updated to maximum security in the 1980s.
Denise Heath confirmed that the facility can not house maximum security prisoners. "Goffstown can not house maximum security prisoners, they don't have the technology," said Heath. However, according to DOC's own website chronology in 1988 the state used surplus funds to update "appropriate security standards" to Goffstown.
Today there are two convicted murderers housed in the Goffstown facility. Susan E. McLaughlin who began her sentence on May 5, 1989, and Lucille Sanchez who began her sentence on May 8, 2003. Pam Smart entered Goffstown on March 22, 1991. Despite her murder sentence, she remained there for two years, before she was transferred.
According to Heath, New Hampshire has contracts with 28 states, and New York is not one of them. "My understanding is that her transfer was done commissioner to commissioner."
Pam was transferred from Goffstown to Bedford Hills early in the morning without prior notice to her family, said Wojas. "The state took her in shackles at 4:30 in the morning in a vehicle with the windows taped up," said Wojas.
In an exclusive interview Pam Smart recounted the trip and said she was shackled from head to toe. "They had shackles around my wrists, ankles, and they had a belt around my waist. I had to stop to use the bathroom on the ride, and they pulled into a gas station and people were staring at me, I was so embarrassed," said Smart. The Wojas family now makes the weary 260 mile journey as often as they can to see their daughter.
After the transfer Pam Smart found herself in a maximum security prison located in a quaint little town and living with a prison population of over 800 violent offenders.
She also found that her reputation preceded her, and said she was not well received. "People were told to hate me before I even got here. You don't know what I go through because of who I am," said Smart.
One of those people who hated her before they even met her was Carolyn Nurse, who was serving 10 years for eight counts of armed robbery. "Pam got there before I did, but I had pre-conceived notions from the media about her. I hated her on-sight," said Nurse.
However, Nurse soon changed her feelings on Pamela Smart. "I needed to pass my pre-college math class in order to get into the college program, and I was failing. Someone suggested getting a tutor. When I asked who the best tutor was she said Pamela Smart and I said 'f--- no'. Everyone said she was the best," said Nurse.
Nurse reluctantly met with Pam because Pam wanted to help her. Nurse said Pam would meet with her anytime to help her with her math, and they became great friends from spending so much time together. "I have loved her ever since, she is the most selfless person I have ever met," said Nurse.
Nurse passed that math class and was accepted into the college program. She graduated valedictorian of her class. Part of Nurse's valedictorian duties included giving a speech. When she turned her speech in, there was some debate about mentioning Pam in her speech.
"Pamela is really hated by the administration, and they had a problem with me mentioning her name," she said.
One of those people who thought that mentioning Smart's name would be controversial was Elaine Lord, superintendent of Bedford Hills at the time. Lord was also from New Hampshire, and did not really like Pam according to Nurse. Lord declined to comment on Smart.
"I do not talk about individual inmates who were within Bedford Hills. I believe that it is only fair that they not have to worry about what I have to say now that I have retired, whether good or ill," said Lord.
Nurse entered the Masters of Arts in English/Literature program alongside Smart. They maintained the same exact grades until they hit expository writing. Nurse received an A-, while Smart received an A. When Nurse was told she was going to be the valedictorian of the Masters of Arts in English/Literature program, she knew there was a mistake.
"I went back to them and said 'we've made a mistake', I am not the valedictorian, Pam Smart is, and do you know what they said to me? They said to me 'we can't have her get up and make a speech,'" said Nurse.
Nurse told Pamela the news, and she insisted upon Nurse getting up to make the speech, because so many people looked up to her. When innacunnet High School," according to the Derry Police Department Supplement Report. Blake stated that Fowler told him that when Bill and Pete went into the man's home that one of them held a knife to the man's throat and the other one shot him.
On June 12, 1990 an anonymous phone call was made to Surette at approximately 11 p.m.
Ruggerio answered the call and informed Surette that there was an anonymous call about the Smart homicide and the caller sounded like an older male using a pay phone.
Surette took the call at the house officer desk on a taped line. According to a Derry Police Department Supplement Report, the caller told Surette that "the school teacher was sleeping with one of the boys and that she staged the thing."
The first names of three boys involved in the murder, Bill, Pete and Vance, were also mentioned by the anonymous call.
On June 11, 1990, Flynn, Randall and Lattime were arrested. Flynn's arrest report states that his crime was "first degree murder." Randall and Lattime were arrested as accomplices to first degree murder.
The boys were taken in wearing the trendy "mullet" style hair cut of the early 90's and their possessions were collected by the Seabrook Police Department. The Seabrook Police Prisoner Property Inventory list includes possessions of one William P. Flynn as 21 cents in change, one silver necklace, a dungaree jacket, a red cap and a pair of sneakers.
Surette and Assistant Attorney General Paul Maggiotto interviewed a man named Kenneth Knight, a friend of the Flynn family, questioning any information he might know of the murder.
According to the Derry Police Department Supplement Report, Flynn's mother told Knight that on the evening before Flynn's arrest he told his mother that he had done something bad but he would not tell her what he had done. Flynn had spoken with Knight later that evening in private and was emotionally distraught.
A sensitive Flynn admitted to Knight that he was the one who had shot Greg Smart and said the reason he did it was because Greg beat Pam. Flynn told Knight that he had seen the bruises. Knight said that Flynn told him he would do his time and go to jail for the rest of his life if he had to.
On June 13, 1990, Pelletier, Captain Loring Jackson, Charewicz and Surette carried out a one party audio surveillance on a conversation between Pam Smart and her assistant /confidant Cecelia Pierce. Pierce was wearing a body wire that was monitored by the detectives and was recorded at approximately 12:50 p.m. of that day.
The surveillance was authorized by Chief Edward B. Garone of the Derry Police Department and Pierce signed a form permitting the monitoring and recording of her conversation with Pam Smart. A total of seven tapes were recorded between Pam and Pierce. Not only were body wires worn in the recording of the conversations but wire taps were placed on Pam Smart's phone line.
On July 13, 1990 a recording device was placed on Cecelia Pierce before she met with Pam. Some of the conversation went as follows:
Pierce: "You know what. Remember that time you let Bill use your car to go up there?"
Pierce: "Up to your house?"
Pierce: "Well that time, if he hadn't forgotten directions he could have killed Greg then and then...
Pam: "I know, I really..."
More of the conversation leads to Pam questioning Pierce of wearing a body wire.
Pam: "Give me some signal that if you ever come down to me and you're wired that you are going to give me."
Pierce: "I'll just wink."
A Derry Police Department Supplement Report shows that Pierce was interviewed by Pelletier in a multi-party conference call with Assistant Attorney Generals Cynthia White and Diane Nicolosi. Pierce stated in this interview that Pam had discussed the actual planning of her husband's death and Flynn was present for some of the discussions to go over the details of the murder.
On Aug. 1, 1990, at 7 p.m. the last phone conversation was recorded between Pam Smart and Pierce by Charewicz and Jackson. The phone call was made from Pierce's residence to Pam Smart's work phone at the Winnacunnett High School media center.
On that same day, Pelletier signed an affidavit and warrant at the district court in Derry for the arrest of Pam Smart with the charge of accomplice to first degree murder of her husband Greg Smart. Pelletier, Jackson, Byron and Charewicz met at Pam's work in Hampton, N.H. and entered the building.
Pelletier proceeded to head towards Pam's office in the lower level of the building in the media center and had a brief conversation with Pam. "Well Pam, I've got good news and I've got bad news." Pelletier said. "The good news is we've solved the murder of your husband."
The bad news was that Smart was under arrest.
Pam Smart was read her rights, under the watchful eye of WMUR News, which had shown up to the scene, and brought to the Derry Police Department where she was then allowed to make one phone call and placed into cell two.
Pelletier states that Pam told him she had the card of her lawyer, whom she had contacted when he arrested her, but the Derry Police Department Supplement Report states that Pelletier noted that Pamela Smart did not say anything else to detectives upon her arrest.
Smart joined Flynn, Randall and Lattime as participants in Greg Smart's murder to be under arrest. Fowler was later arrested after Smart's pre-trial motions had started.
"We talked to Pam," said Pelletier about the beginning of the investigation, "You always want to look at the inner circle first and work your way out."
Pelletier found a few things odd about Pam's willingness to talk to the media days after the murder of her husband. She was told not to talk to the media, on advice of the police, but still did. Pelletier notes Pam's reaction to Greg's death as "handling this more professionally, than emotionally."
Mark Sisti, Pam's lawyer for the trial, recalled in an interview on February 18, 2005, that he was contacted before Pam's arrest. "We informed her that she was the focus of an investigation," said Sisti of their conversation.
The media jumped on the case like wild animals on fresh meat.
The trial was covered live by WMUR television every day, and was also the first trial to be broadcast on Court TV. The image of an attractive, young, grieving widow being a suspect of her own husband's murder was eaten up by the media and the public before the jury could even be selected.
Phrases such as "Ice Princess" were used as headlines to newspaper articles about the trial. Pam was consistently mislabeled as a teacher. During the trial Flynn was constantly referred to as a 15-year-old boy when in fact he was 16 years old.
When the trial began, the jury was never sequestered, making it possible for jurors to fraternize in public with people about the trial and view news coverage of the trial.
By May 20, 1991 all the trials against Pam Smart and the boys involved had either struck a deal or reached a verdict.
Lattime would spend the next 15 years in jail.
Fowler would spend the next 13, only to be sent back on a parole violation. He was released last summerFlynn and Randall, who committed the crime, remain in jail until eligible for parole in 2018.
Pam Smart will remain in jail for life, but her, her family and supporters maintain her innocence and continue to work toward a pardon.
For all of them, the rest of their lives were never the same.
© Copyright 2007 Keene Equinox