The Pam Smart Case - Ten years later
By Amanda Milkovits, Staff Writer
her 1991 trial at Rockingham County Superior Court
in Exeter. (AP)
HAMPTON — Early one morning 10 years ago, a young married couple at 4E Misty Morning Drive in Derry stirred in their bed.
It was a foggy day with the promise of rain, a Tuesday and a workday for both of them, a day that probably started like any other weekday, with hot showers, coffee and early morning small talk.
Except the man would be dead before the day’s end. And his wife knew it.
Only one person is alive to know what really happened that morning.
This is known: On that day, Gregory Smart climbed into his truck and headed to his insurance job. Later that morning, his wife, Pamela Wojas Smart, got into her Honda CRX and drove to her job as media services director at School Administrative Unit 21 in Hampton.
She had a late meeting that night with the school board, which was discussing her salary and a media class she wanted to teach at the high school in the fall. She wouldn’t be home until well after dark, well after her husband walked in the door to their quiet condominium.
Well after two teen-age boys — one of them her lover — stood waiting for him inside, clutching a .38 pistol and a butcher knife in their sweaty, gloved hands.
Yet on the morning of May 1, 1990, all these events lay ahead, like a row of dominoes standing in place before the flick of a finger.
What goes through the mind of a person who watches another, walking unsuspecting around their home, while knowing that he has just hours to live? Is there a different note in her voice when she says good-bye? Does she hug him a little longer? Does she hesitate, contemplate telling him something that could save his life?
Or does she just let him walk through the door, knowing it’s the last time she’ll see him alive?
The 24-year-old man was dead in hours. The teen-agers were arrested in a month. And Pamela Smart — who would not cease to proclaim her innocence — became a notorious household name.
Girl seduces boy. Girl threatens to leave boy, unless he kills her husband. Boy kills husband.
It’s the plot that launched 1,000 satellite feeds, a theme of the soap operas interrupted by live broadcasts of Pamela Smart’s murder trial for three weeks in March 1991. Judges and lawyers have seen enough criminal cases to know how the crazy equations of human dynamics can add up to murder.
"It was another murder case. It was strange, but I’ve seen stranger," said Judge Douglas Gray, now retired.
What made Pamela Smart’s murder trial the most sensational and publicized case New Hampshire — and possibly the nation — had seen since the kidnapping of Charles Lindberg’s baby?
News reporters had been sniffing around the murder of Gregory Smart since the beginning, particularly when his young widow almost immediately opened the door to lengthy interviews. And when she was arrested a few months later, the media descended on southern New Hampshire in a way that had never been seen before.
"It was absolutely bizarre. People can’t even imagine how this was covered, the number of (satellite) trucks there, the number of cities there," said her defense lawyer Mark Sisti of Concord. "It had all the emotional elements to feed a media frenzy. It had youth. It had sex. It had violence."
Sisti and his partner, Paul Twomey, had tried 50 murder cases before taking on the Smart case, and they’ve handled countless jury trials since then. "But that was the strangest case we’d ever been through. The media made it so strange," Sisti said.
To the public, the lurid attraction was the mix of illicit sex between a married school employee and a virginal 15-year-old boy, with stripteases and seduction to the soundtrack of heavy metal bands Van Halen and Motley Crue.
It was also the way a young, educated, intelligent woman twisted the loyalty of three longtime buddies against them. And, thanks to unprecedented live coverage, anyone with a television had a front seat at the trial.
"That whole event was pretty bizarre," commented Hampton Police Chief William Wrenn. "To think she betrayed the loyalty and trust of a young boy to do her dirty work for her was appalling."
Wrenn was a deputy police chief in Hampton when the case broke wide open and the media descended on Winnacunnet High School, where the boys attended, the Ring’s Terrace condominium where Pamela Smart lived after the murder, and Hampton Beach. Suddenly, the town once known for its party-time beach had international attention as the place where she snared the teen-age boys. Wherever he traveled then, Wrenn said, people wanted to know about her.
"For some reason, it caught attention over the world," Wrenn said. "It generated a media frenzy. It’s a sad commentary that so much was made of this incident. A young man was killed in the prime of his life."
With long blonde-streaked hair and eyes ringed with dark eyeliner, Pamela Smart (or "Pame," as she spelled her first name) was pretty, energetic and, at 23, barely older than the students at Winnacunnet High School. She was working in the SAU 21 building just 150 yards away from the high school where 15-year-old sophomore William Flynn was. He met her in the fall of 1989 and fell for her, hard.
Pame’s student intern, 16-year-old Cecelia Pierce, knew about Flynn’s crush, and later, the affair. The three of them were working on a video for a contest by the Florida Department of Citrus, so they began spending more time together after school, often at each other’s homes.
Flynn was gentle and nice, Pame would later tell a jury. And after her husband admitted in December to having an affair, her feelings for Flynn deepened.
By Feb. 5, 1990, she told Flynn that she was thinking about him. Three weeks later, they kissed on his bed. Flynn recounted that day to the jury like any teen-age boy remembering his first serious kiss. His bedroom door was locked, Motley Crue’s "Starry Eyes" kept repeating on the stereo, and here was this attractive older woman on his bed, asking him when he was going to kiss her.
"She was my whole world," Flynn told the jury later.
She sent Flynn love letters, some sexually explicit. She asked him to develop a roll of film that had pictures of her in a bikini posing suggestively.
On March 24, while her husband was away, Pame invited Flynn and Cecelia over to her condo. Pierce was their "cover." Flynn said she asked him if he’d ever seen the movie "9½ Weeks" — about a sexual affair — because she wanted to perform the striptease that was in the movie.
While Pierce sat alone downstairs, Pame dressed in lingerie and danced for Flynn in her bedroom to the Van Halen tune "Black and Blue." They had sex that night, then, Flynn told the jury, she sent him downstairs for ice cubes to use on her body, mimicking another scene from the movie.
He didn’t tell Pame that was his first time with a woman. By morning, after she drove Pierce back and was taking Flynn home to Seabrook Beach, Pame suddenly told him that they couldn’t see each other again. She couldn’t get a divorce because she wouldn’t be left with anything, Flynn told the jury.
"She said, ‘The only way we’re going to be together is if we kill Greg.’"
Harriet Goff, a Hampton native, sits at her desk in the Rye Police Department, next to a bumper sticker that reads, "I believe in dragons, good men, and other fantasy creatures."
"In his defense," she said of Flynn, "I can understand how an adolescent boy could fall for that. ... The prospect of hitting the hay with an adult female, come on!"
Was it, as Pamela Smart told the jury, just an attraction that built into an affair? Or was it, as the prosecution believed, a trap she wove for a vulnerable teen-age boy, using his first sexual experience in a torrid affair to do the work of murdering her husband?
The two met in her office or she’d pick him up at a friend’s house or his home, and they’d go out dancing and drinking. They had sex in her condo, at the Seabrook ball field, in her car.
She told Flynn that her marriage was unhappy, that Greg beat her, that she married him the previous May "because it was the thing to do." She couldn’t divorce Greg, Flynn said she told him, because she’d be left with nothing, including her beloved Shih Tsu named Haley. And besides, if he was dead, she’d get about $140,000 in insurance money.
He believed that she wanted to get away from Greg, but Flynn told the jury that he didn’t take her seriously when she insisted that he find a way to kill him.
She told Pierce and Flynn her plan. She wanted Flynn to park at the shopping plaza near her condo, change into black clothes at the Dumpster behind the plaza, pull his long hair back in a ponytail so he wouldn’t be recognized, and cut through the nearby field to her condo at Misty Morning Drive. She’d leave the bulkhead unlocked so he could get into the house. He was to take anything he wanted, "make it look like a botched burglary." She told him to do it on a night she was working late — and to use a gun to shoot Greg so it wouldn’t get too much blood on the white leather furniture.
Flynn didn’t have a gun, a car, or even a driver’s license. And he didn’t want to kill Greg. Though Pame told him two different nights that he could commit the murder — when she had night school meetings — Flynn purposely didn’t go through with it.
Pame was furious.
"‘If you loved me, you’d do this!’" she screamed at him, he told the jury.
"I told her I did love her."
She told him May 1 was his last chance. Greg had late appointments and she would be busy with a school board meeting.
This time, his longtime friends Vance "J.R." Lattime and Patrick "Pete" Randall agreed to help him. They didn’t like Pame, but they knew about her affair with Flynn, and they’d listened to him talk about killing Greg Smart for weeks. Pame told him it was the only way they could be together, so Flynn was determined to do it. When they couldn’t talk him out of it, Randall said later, they decided to help him so he wouldn’t get caught.
Flynn told them Pame would pay them $500 each and that they could take anything they wanted from the house. The teen-agers talked about different ways to kill Greg, from a mugging to a drive-by shooting, but they settled on the plan they said that Pame proposed.
On May 1, Pame wore all her favorite rings so the boys wouldn’t steal them from the house, Flynn said. That afternoon, she drove Lattime, Flynn and Randall to Haverhill, Mass., to pick up Lattime’s grandmother’s car.
She went over the plan with them. They were not to kill Greg in front of Haley because she didn’t want to traumatize the dog. Randall wanted to use a knife because "it would be quieter," he later told the jury, but she was outraged. Use a gun, she told them. I don’t want blood on the furniture. She wanted to know how she should act when she "discovered" Greg’s body that night. Should she scream? Call for help?
"Just act natural," one of the boys told her.
They had the car. They had the gun, which belonged to Lattime’s father. One of their friends, Raymond Fowler, was coming along to keep Lattime company while Randall and Flynn were in the house.
It was just before sunset when the boys pulled into the nearby shopping plaza. They needed time and the darkness before they could make their way over to the condominium. They wandered into Papa Gino’s for some pizza, then one of them bought a cassette at Strawberry’s Records and Tapes. When the sun disappeared, Randall and Flynn changed into their dark sweatshirts and pants and cut through the field to the Smarts’ condo. Lattime and Fowler waited behind in the car.
The bulkhead was unlocked, Flynn said. They pushed the dog down the cellar stairs and ransacked the house, gathering CDs and jewelry into a black pillowcase. Randall had a butcher knife to hold at Greg’s throat, though they still had the gun as a backup. They waited in the dark for Greg.
When he entered, Randall and Flynn grabbed him, threw him against the wall and shoved him to his knees. Greg begged for his life. Randall grabbed him by the hair, held the knife under his chin, and demanded his wallet and his rings. Greg gave them the wallet but refused to give up the simple gold wedding ring.
"I can’t. My wife would kill me," he said to Randall.
That’s when the teen-ager froze. He had the knife under Greg’s chin, ready to cut him like he said he would. He had told his friends before this that he’d wanted to know what it’d be like to kill someone else, to be a paid assassin.
But after Greg’s words, Randall said later, he couldn’t do it. "It freaked me out."
He gripped Greg’s hair. Flynn stood behind Greg, holding the gun. He motioned to Randall, as if to ask if he should shoot the man kneeling before them. Randall nodded.
On his 17th birthday, Flynn knelt before the jury to show them how Greg knelt before him. Unlike all the other witnesses in this murder trial — including Pame — Flynn wept as he told the jury what happened next.
"I cocked the hammer back and pointed the gun at his head," he said, nearly whispering, his head bowed. "I just stood there ... for a hundred years, it seemed like.
"I said, ‘God, forgive me.’ ... I pulled the trigger."
The parking lot is jammed with cars and trucks outside the Honey Bee Donut Shop, which is smack-dab across from Dunkin’ Donuts on Route 1. For 25 years, this Seabrook donut shop — motto: Good Food with Attitude — has defiantly held its ground against the bigger competitor. Phil Englehardt, who runs the place, says he starts his mornings with a one-finger salute to the orange-and-pink chain shop across the street.
If you’ve got an opinion, you air it here. And on a morning when the rest of the nation is buzzing about Elian Gonzalez, the regulars hear the name Pamela Smart and snap back with comments. The teen-agers she confided in, intimidated and used, are all from Seabrook.
E.J. of Seabrook leans over his cup of coffee and buttered English muffin at the counter, and says he remembers watching the trial on television. "I don’t think she should have killed her husband," he said. "But that kid should have had more sense."
"It’s first love. He was wrapped around her finger," one man said. "The other ones were just a group who want to be a part of whatever happens.
"When he pulled that trigger and shot that guy, he wanted to, but he didn’t want to. He was probably surprised when that gun went off."
By the third or fourth day after Greg was murdered, police knew there was something suspicious about Pamela Smart.
When she discovered Greg’s body that night, she fled from her house screaming, banging on door after door until one of her neighbors called police. She was hysterical, sobbing when Greg’s parents, Bill and Judith Smart, arrived at the condo in a panic.
Then, the outbursts stopped. And there was something about her that tweaked at the investigators’ instincts.
"There were a lot of things that just weren’t right with her," said former Derry Police Capt. Loring Jackson, who now works in the law enforcement division of Riley’s Sports Shop in Hooksett. "There was a total lack of emotion, blowing herself up in the press. ... There were a lot of red flags going off on her."
Jackson supervised the investigation; Derry Police Detective Daniel Pelletier led the case. They sat down with Pame immediately after the murder and explained the investigation to her.
"This girl is showing absolutely no emotion," Jackson remembered thinking the first time he met her. "No tears. No emotion. Cold. As if the whole thing is a big pain in the neck."
As they begged her for any information that could help them, they emphasized that nothing should be told to the press. They didn’t want to alert the killer or killers to what they knew, Jackson said.
Three days after the murder, Pame was on television, in a long interview with WMUR TV/Channel 9’s reporter Bill Spencer. She told what she knew to the Union Leader and the Derry News, telling police later that the reporters were hounding her and she wanted to clear up rumors that Greg was involved in drugs.
"She set us back two weeks in just three days," Jackson groaned. "It was so bad, I told her she was hindering the investigation. ... I froze out the family entirely. I didn’t want to see things on Channel 9 that I didn’t want to see on Channel 9."
They had few leads. Pame swore she was telling them everything she knew and anything she could think of to help them solve the murder. Greg had no enemies. Greg didn’t use drugs. As she told the reporters over and over, it was just a botched burglary.
A penchant for talk was about to be her downfall.
First, loose talk broke open the boys’ secrecy. Fowler told a friend named Ralph Welch about the murder. On June 9, Welch confronted his friends Lattime and Randall, who admitted to killing Greg. Welch went to the police on June 10. Nothing the boys could say would stop him.
"I’d grown up with them," Welch told the jury later. "I couldn’t believe my best buddies could do something like this."
The boys and Pame panicked. Randall, Welch and Flynn took off that night for Connecticut, to stay briefly with Randall’s relatives, then continue to Florida. When they got to Connecticut, Randall’s father called him and told him to bring back the car or he’d report it stolen. They reluctantly returned. Derry police arrested them on June 11, charging them in connection with the murder. They would eventually agree to a plea bargain, with reduced sentences, and become witnesses against Pame.
But the one who broke the case was 16-year-old Cecelia Pierce, Pame’s intern and confidante.
The Seabrook girl had been interviewed by police before and she refused to say that she knew anything. But after the boys were arrested, she came to tell police what she knew.
She was the opening they needed. She agreed to wear a wire so police could secretly tape conversations between her and Pame.
On several occasions, they heard obscenity-laced conversations as Pame tried to intimidate the girl into keeping her mouth shut. They heard Pame ask Pierce who the police would believe — she, a professional? Or the teen-age boys? They heard her talk about knowing about the murder ahead of time.
They heard enough. On Aug. 1, 1990, the Derry police arrested Pame at her office in the SAU 21 building.
"She thought she was smart, but she had no street smarts. Nine-year-olds have more street smarts than she had," Jackson said. "That was the problem. She thought she was smarter than the whole world. But she made many mistakes, right and left."
When Harriet Goff shopped at the Market Basket in Seabrook, people she bumped into all wanted to talk about the trial. Everyone was watching it on television. No one could get enough of talking about it.
They’d grown up in Hampton, they’d graduated from Winnacunnet High School. How could this possibly happen in their small town?
"It was like bringing the city to a small town. This kind of thing doesn’t happen here," Goff said.
Defense attorney Mark Sisti and prosecutor Diane Nicolosi probably wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on much about Pamela Smart. But they say the same thing about this case.
The facts of the murder were not terribly unusual. What propelled this case into history was the media coverage.
It was the first time that a court case was filmed live. Channel 9 carried the proceedings, interrupting regular daily programming with live film of what was happening in the courtroom, and then rebroadcasting the day’s highlights at midnight. Former Rockingham County Sheriff Wayne Vetter estimated there were about 150 reporters from all over the world milling about the courthouse.
Before the first day of trial on March 4, 1991, Judge Douglas Gray set clear guidelines for the reporters following the trial at Rockingham County Superior Court in Exeter.
Every part of the day had to be well-orchestrated, from the moment Pame was picked up from the women’s prison in Goffstown, to when she was dropped off after the trial ended for the day.
Instead of just one or two deputies to transport Pame, Vetter had three or four deputies, plus a female deputy, and two cars (in case the one Pamela was riding in broke down).
To keep the press from crossing the line, literally, inside the courthouse, Vetter laid out duct tape on the floor to define where the reporters could stand. Only two media people — both from Boston TV stations — crossed the line, and they were escorted out.
Reporters swarmed after the lawyers, family members, and even followed Pame into the bathroom, trying to take her picture, Sisti said. Few paid attention to Daniel VandeBogart, who was accused in a second-degree murder trial going on right next door.
The press filled one side of the courtroom, with television cameras, still cameras and notebooks. Despite the chaos outside, the lawyers said that inside the courtroom they were focused on the case, undistracted by the media.
"Judge Gray maintained a control in that courtroom that was second to none," Vetter said. "They picked the right judge for that case."
The families sat in the front rows on either side of the courtroom — Bill and Judith Smart on the left, John and Linda Wojas on the right. Barely two years earlier, they’d celebrated Pame and Greg’s wedding. During the trial, neither couple exchanged looks or words, though they were there every day. The aisle that led into the courtroom was the chasm that separated them. Each time Pame walked by on her way to the defense table, Mrs. Smart told reporters, she wanted to reach out and shake her.
Randall and Lattime, now 17 and 18 years old, took the stand and described their roles in the murder matter-of-factly. Flynn gave a slight nod in Pame’s direction when he took the stand, then broke down sobbing as he described killing her husband.
"I never would have killed Greg if it wasn’t for Pame," he said.
She sat on the far right side of the defense table, her long hair pulled back in a trademark bow, at times taking notes and watching the proceedings without emotion. When the tapes were played for the court, she sank in her seat. As the trial reached its end, she took the stand, enduring grueling cross-examination for two days.
When Sisti questioned Pame, she was poised, controlled, showing some emotion when she described finding her husband dead, but otherwise remaining calm and attentive on the stand.
Yes, she’d had an affair. True, she’d never talked about it — only telling her family and friends the truth just days before the trial. No, she’d never, ever had her husband killed.
Then prosecutor Paul Maggiotto came in for the cross-examination.
Her cool demeanor began melting. Pame interrupted him, jumping on his questions with yet another explanation. She was trapped by her words, like a spider in a web of her own making. Every reason she gave for her actions led to more questions about her behavior.
And over and over, Maggiotto made his point: The woman who swore she’d do anything to solve her husband’s murder hadn’t told police that she’d had an affair with the boy they’d arrested. She told the jury she wanted to conduct her own investigation. "Then what? Make a citizen’s arrest?" Maggiotto asked sarcastically.
She said she didn’t want anyone to know about her affair, because she was ashamed of it, and because she didn’t want to be linked to the murder.
The way she was now.
She couldn’t explain away the tapes made of her conversations with Pierce. At first, she said she told her that she’d known about the murder beforehand in a trick to get the girl to admit to being involved. Maggiotto challenged her to examine the transcript to show how she’d questioned the girl. Pame’s responses were feeble.
Then, she said she was confused, on medication, depressed at losing her husband, which was why she sounded paranoid on the tapes. Maggiotto leaned in harder on her, coming back again.
"Whenever a defendant takes the stand, the case turns on whether the defendant is believable or not," Nicolosi said. "She was poised, well-educated, and a woman, which was unusual in this kind of case."
But she was not, the jury decided, believable.
In the closing arguments, while admitting that Pame had tried manipulating Pierce, defense attorney Paul Twomey attacked the boys’ reputations as liars, thrill killers and small-time punks.
"These three boys together, there’s not a shred of moral decency between them," Twomey said.
Prosecutor Maggiotto countered with a riveting hour and 10 minute closing argument that touched on each nugget of the case, from the boys’ testimony, to the words of Cecelia Pierce, to Pame’s own voice on the tapes. He said her talk about being confused and desperate on the tapes was an attempt to manipulate them, the way she’d manipulated the students.
"This woman was counting from day one if this case ever came to court, she could put herself on the stand with her background, with her intelligence, with her ability to answer questions, and pull one over on you, ladies and gentlemen," Maggiotto said.
The jury’s answer came Friday, March 22, 1991, after 13 hours of deliberation.
Gray had sequestered the jury overnight, due to the crush of media and intensity of the trial. At 1 p.m., the seven women and five men delivered their verdict.
Pamela Smart was guilty of accomplice to first-degree murder, guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, and guilty of witness tampering. She would spend the rest of her life in prison, without chance of parole.
Her husband’s family erupted in cheers. Pame showed no emotion. Her parents, John and Linda Wojas, sat stoically, just a few feet away from where the Smarts shouted and clapped.
It was the verdict heard ’round the country. Local and national television stations carried the story live. Foster’s Daily Democrat stopped its presses to get the story in the afternoon paper. People in houses, businesses, restaurants and stores, anywhere there was a television, were watching the end of the state’s most sensational trial.
Vetter moved fast. He had an unmarked, unmanned cruiser on every corner of the building, ready so he could get Pame out of the building quickly, by any route necessary. She was whisked out of the courtroom, down through the courthouse basement and the Registry of Deeds, and out the side door. Bailiff Lt. Barry Peacock jumped in one of the cruisers with her and they drove out to the Goffstown prison, leaving the excited media swarming past the exits and cruisers, trying to see her leave.
The Wojases hurried away, ducking the microphone booms logged at their heads. Sisti and Twomey were dismayed and vowed to appeal. Maggiotto looked both pleased and exhausted; his partner Nicolosi admitted to tears of emotion when the verdict was read.
But the people in the center of the largest crowd of reporters were the Smarts, their faces breaking into the first smiles seen in weeks. They were elated with the verdict. Each had held their own good luck piece during the trial. She showed her heart locket that held a photo of Greg and a lock of his hair. Smart told reporters he carried a large paper clip taken from his son’s pocket for good luck. The family left for a visit to Greg’s grave.
The three-week trial, the most publicized in New Hampshire’s history and perhaps the country’s, was over. Eventually, the satellite trucks rumbled on to the next tragedy. The reporters drifted away to other stories. The duct tape came off the courthouse floors.
The courthouse wouldn’t see another trial of this magnitude again.
Mention Pamela Smart’s name in the Honey Bee donut shop 10 years later, and the customers erupt. Their indignance is still fresh. These boys were from their town. Their families still live here.
"She ruined those boys’ lives, and she thinks she should get out?" one older woman demands. Charles Brown sitting next to her says, "I don’t think the boys should get off. ... You pull a trigger, you pull a trigger."
The Honey Bee regulars may disagree on whether the boys should still be behind bars. But all agree on one thing: "Pamela Smart is where she belongs."
Only one person has professed Pamela Smart’s innocence as loud as she has: her mother, Linda Wojas.
"Do you have a mother? Doesn’t she love you?" Wojas answered back quickly during a phone interview.
At the end of the 1991 trial, she told a Channel 9 reporter that until she hears it from her daughter, she’ll never believe that she’s guilty of masterminding her husband’s murder. She repeats virtually the same statement this week.
Wojas has been steadfast, defending her daughter when it seems the rest of the nation views her as a black widow.
They don’t know Pame the way she does, Wojas said. They don’t know about the good works she’s performed while jailed at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester, N.Y. Pame teaches inmates in GED classes; she inspires and encourages the women to succeed. The inmates remember her when they’re released, Wojas said, and they write back to thank her.
Pame has earned a law certificate via correspondence school, and she’s now getting straight A’s in her courses for master’s degrees in fine arts and science. Wojas said she doesn’t know what Pame intends to do with her education, beyond "sharing" her knowledge with the other inmates.
Pame often talks about Greg, Wojas said, and how much she misses him. "She always tells me, ‘No one can ever take the good times I had with Greg away. No one knows how Greg and I felt about each other,’" Wojas said. Her dog, Haley, died last year.
Being her daughter’s supporter consumes her. Wojas worked as a legal secretary before all this happened. She hasn’t returned to her job.
"I feel like I have a big job here. My job, it’s a job that I choose, is to support my daughter along with the thousands of people who do .... until the truth surfaces," Wojas said. "And to stay alive. That’s what I tell her. Stay alive until you can tell."
She sees her daughter as a victim of a media blitz that wouldn’t allow a fair trial, an unfair jury, an unfair judge, and hard-luck teen-agers whom Pame was trying to help.
"If this wasn’t my family, I would find it hard to believe. I live with this every day. This is a living death," Wojas said. "I do see an end to it. I hope I live to see it. I don’t think there’s room in this world for my daughter’s sentence."
She sees a glimmer of hope in the recent focus on alleged misconduct of the state’s Supreme Court justices. She’s one of a group of residents who are accusing the judges of back-door deals. The Supreme Court justices sat on Pame’s appeal, upholding the judge’s decision on her case, and now there’s an appeal pending in the federal court. She testified before the New Hampshire legislative committee on judicial conduct two years ago about perceived misconduct by the courts. Now, she believes, the complaints are being taken seriously.
"We have back-door politics. We have secrecy. We have judges judging judges. ... The abuse became so profound that there’s no longer anywhere to hide," Wojas said.
And she finds hope in the stories of other inmates who are eventually proven innocent. "Those are the things you grab onto and say, There is a God."
Pame isn’t giving up her fight to prove her innocence. Mark Sisti is representing her appeal to the U.S. District Court.
"She’s engaging. She’s intelligent. She’s probably an over-achiever. Articulate, impressive as being very young," Sisti said. "I think this whole ‘cold’ thing is ridiculous."
Bill Smart, Greg’s father, did not return phone calls seeking comment for this article. His wife, Judith, died in December 1998.
The teen-agers are now men in their mid-20s. Flynn, Lattime and Randall are all serving their sentences in the Thomaston State Prison in Maine.
All three have earned their GEDs. Flynn has joined a prison ministry group. Lattime has learned a trade in the print shop. Randall has learned carpentry.
"The three of them have really turned their whole attitudes around," said Marsha Kazarosian, whose Haverhill, Mass., law firm represents the boys. The boys’ families declined comment, and Randall’s family referred calls to the lawyers.
Although the boys have individual cells, they still stick together at the prison, Kazarosian said. "They’ve sort of grown together because of this," she said.
It’s been a struggle for the families, Kazarosian said, but Lattime and Randall in particular seem to have developed good relationships with their families — even though the jail is about 2½ hours away.
"They’re not bitter at all," said Randall’s lawyer Mark Stevens. "They take responsibility for what they’ve done."
They feel remorse for the Smarts. "From the beginning, J.R. (Lattime) wanted so much to express that to the Smart family. He feels very remorseful for his involvement in it," Kazarosian said.
The lawyers declined to comment on what the boys think of Pamela. When they heard about her newsletter by and for her supporters, the boys thought "not only did she suck these kids in, she sucked these people in," Kazarosian said.
Last year, a judge reduced Lattime’s sentence by three years, so he’ll be eligible for parole in 2005. Both Randall and Flynn are eligible for parole in 2018, when they’ll be in their 40s.
"I think they will be successful once they’re released because they don’t deny what they did," said Stevens. "I think they’d like a second chance at life."
That’s the part that still gets to Jackson, the former Derry police captain.
"That’s one of the tragedies of this case. You’ve got three very young kids, and they’re still in their formative years, and their lives are ruined because she manipulated one of them and the other two went along out of loyalty," Jackson said.
"I feel it’s a shame. ... We’ll never know what would have happened if this cold, calculating bitch hadn’t stepped into their lives."
The difference, he said, is that the three will get another chance. She won’t.
"She’s going to rot in jail for the rest of her life," Jackson said. "And like I’ve said before, I hope she has a long life."