The Smart Murder
By Larissa Pawula, Herald Staff Writer
Portsmouth Herald (N.H.) Wednesday, March 27, 1991
EXETER — Screams pierced the night when Pamela Ann Smart walked into her Derry condominium to find her 24-year-old insurance-salesman husband, Gregg, face down on the floor with a bullet in his head.
An hysterical Smart pounded on doors until frightened neighbors summoned police to the death scene. Derry police and detectives from the state police major-crime unit began investigating what at first glance appeared to be a botched burglary.
Was Gregg killed when he walked in on burglars who took some jewelry but left the stereo equipment stacked near the door and the family dog locked in the basement?
Why would anyone want to kill Gregg?, she asked herself, claiming to have agonized over the senseless killing, searching for the motives and culprits responsible for ending her happy marriage.
But a jury believed she had the answers all along — that her disbelief and self—initiated murder investigation was a charade designed to hide her affair with the teenager she lured to kill her husband.
THE JURY BELIEVED she seduced William Flynn, now 17, then threatened to end their steamy relationship unless he killed her husband. Smart told Flynn her husband hit her, and that she couldn’t get a divorce because he would never leave her alone. Smart risked losing her dog Haley, the furniture, and money, and would have to move out of the couple’s Morning Misty Drive condominium.
Flynn admitted to pulling the trigger of the .38-caliber revolver used to kill Gregg while Flynn’s best friend, Patrick “Pete” Randall, 17, held the pleading victim by the hair with a butcher knife at his throat. A third youth, Vance Lattime Jr. provided the murder weapon and drove the getaway car. A fourth, Raymond Fowler, 19, kept Lattime company while Flynn and Randall killed Gregg after first ransacking the apartment to make it look as though the victim interrupted a burglary when he got home from a business meeting at 10 p.m. May 1, 1990.
WHAT BEGAN THAT night as an investigation into a senseless murder escalated over the next 11 months into the biggest, most sensationally publicized murder-conspiracy case in New Hampshire history. Ending the chapter but certainly not the ease, a jury last Friday found Smart, the former media-services coordinator for the area school district, guilty on accomplice-to-first-degree murder conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and witness—tampering charges.
As the prison cell door locks shut — at least for now — on the attractive former cheerleader, it seems hard to believe that police were clueless to the murder.
But the investigation didn’t start moving until Ralph Welch, who lived with the Lattime family in Seabrook, went to the police after Randall admitted his involvement in the crime.
Afraid he might be Randall’s and Flynn’s next victim, Welch gave police enough information for an arrest warrant.
Police may never have found the murder weapon if Welch hadn’t told Lattime’s father, Vance Sr., that the gun used, was stolen from the father’s collection. Vance testified he took the gun, a .38-caliber Charter Arms revolver from his parent’s bedroom dresser, lent it to Flynn, then cleaned and returned it after the murder.
ON JUNE 12 after a short escape to Connecticut where Flynn, Lattime, and Randall unsuccessfully hid for several hours, the youths turned themselves in to Seabrook Police after coaxing by their parents.
Key evidence linking Mrs. Smart to the murder was gathered after a [student] agreed to surreptitiously tape conversations with the widow, tapes which later led a jury to believe Smart knew about the murder plot beforehand. Those audiotapes were made in mid- July.
On August 1, police arrested the Florida State University honor graduate at her school office across the street from Winnacunnet High [School]. The case really jelled in January of this year when Flynn, Lattime and Randall plea-bargained with the state for a reduced sentence in return for testifying against Smart.
That testimony was presented to the world this month when Assistant Attorney Generals Paul Maggiotto and Diane Nicolosi called Bill Flynn early in the trial. His testimony detailing the sordid affair and emotionally recounting Gregory Smart’s execution highlighted his two days on the witness stand.
FLYNN DESCRIBED how he first met Pamela Smart through Project Self-Esteem at Winnacunnet High School, where he served as a student volunteer and Smart served as an adult volunteer.
Only 15 years old at the time, Flynn said he was immediately attracted to the petite blond and more so after he found the two liked the same heavy-metal bands, Motley Crue and Van Halen. Then came the video project. Smart received a flyer in the mail inviting high school students to submit a rock-music video promoting orange juice. Flynn, Pierce and Smart became close friends by working on the orange-juice video over the winter, and by February 1990, the relationship between Flynn and Smart got even juicier.
On February 5, according to Flynn, Smart summoned the boy to her office where she professed her love.
“Do you think about me? ... because I think about you all the time," Smart said, according to Flynn’s testimony.
WITHIN A FEW weeks Smart would invite the teen to her Derry condominium for his first sexual encounter.
In vivid detail, Flynn described how Smart donned a negligee and mimicked a striptease from the movie, "9 1/2 Weeks,” before the two had sex. Smart admitted to the affair in her testimony but denied the striptease, or that Flynn used ice on her body during the evening’s sexual romp, as in a scene from the movie.
It was after this romantic interlude that Smart first brought up a desire to dispose of her husband, according to Flynn.
Miss Pierce also testified that Smart wanted her husband dead after debating murder vs. divorce.
Flynn testified that it was Smart who told Flynn to use a gun instead of a knife to kill her husband so as not to get blood all over the white leather living-room furniture. She also told him to wear dark clothes; to tie his long brown hair in a ponytail; to ransack the apartment before leaving to make it appear as if Gregg were killed after he walked in on intruders; and gave him $30 to buy bullets, according to Flynn’s testimony.
FLYNN ALSO SAID Smart left the bulkhead door open to enter the condominium, and would have an alibi because she attended a School Board meeting that night.
The plan in place, Smart gave Flynn, Lattime, and Randall a ride to Haverhill the afternoon of the murder to pick up the getaway car. Later, the three teens plus Fowler headed to Derry in a Chevrolet Impala belonging to his grandmother. They ate pizza and looked in a music store at a nearby mall while they waited for nightfall to hide their approach to the condominium.
Flynn told of how an unsuspecting Gregg Smart opened the door. Randall dragged him into the condominium and after a struggle forced the victim to his knees. Holding his head by the hair with one hand, and a knife at his throat with the other, Randall testified without visible remorse how he asked his victim to hand over his wedding ring. Gregg refused and Randall asked why.
“MY WIFE WOULD kill me,” the pleading victim was said to have replied.
After this exchange, Randall testified he couldn’t bring himself to slash the victim’s throat.
Flynn pointed to his inside jacket pocket, where he stashed the .38-caliber revolver the teens brought along “just in case.” Flynn borrowed the gun only to placate Mrs. Smart, he testified, who preferred he shoot rather than stab her husband, according to both Flynn’s and Randall’s testimony.
With a nod of his head, Flynn pulled out the weapon, pointed it at point blank range behind the head of his lover’s husband.
“God forgive me,” he testified that he said as he fired a hollow-point bullet into the victim’s skull.
“I wouldn’t have killed Gregg if Pam didn’t want me to. She was the first girl I ever loved. I didn’t want her to leave me,” said Flynn in his testimony.
REMAINING COOL and composed on the witness stand, Pamela Smart denied she asked Flynn to kill her husband. While she now admits to the affair, she kept her sexual secrets from police when the murder investigation began.
Prosecutor Maggiotto criticized Smart for not leading police to Flynn — someone who may have had a motive to kill her husband. She said she was ashamed of the affair and really didn’t believe Flynn had anything to do with it.
She denied almost every point of Flynn’s incriminating testimony, adding that Flynn threatened suicide if they ended their relationship.
While even brutal cross-examination couldn’t break down Smart’s flat-out denials of playing any role in her husband’s death, her explanation of why she incriminated herself in secretly-taped conversations with Cecelia Pierce led jurors to believe otherwise.
Miss [Cecelia] Pierce recorded two telephone conversations on June 19 and wore a body wire to tape face-to-face conversations with Smart on July 12 and 13.
IN THE EXPLETIVE-FILLED transcripts released to the press during the trial, Smart tells Miss Pierce to lie to the police about the murder, acknowledged comments that she had prior knowledge of the plan, and expressed fear that she and the three teens may be sent to the “f------ slammer for the rest of our lives.”
Pamela Smart was described by onlookers and the victim’s parents as her own worst witness. It was the tapes which convinced a jury of seven women and five men to unanimously find Smart guilty on all three counts.
If the Supreme Court grants an appeal, as it is expected to do partly because the jury was not sequestered at the onset of the trial, Smart may be retried. In the meantime, she is under close guard at the New Hampshire State Prison for Women, reportedly deeply depressed.
* February 5, 1990: Pamela Smart, age 23, media services coordinator at Winnacunnet High in Hampton, admits to sophomore William Flynn, age 15, that she is attracted to him.
* March: Pamela invites Flynn and another student, Cecelia Pierce, to her Derry condominium while her husband Gregg is out of town. They watch the erotic film “9¼ Weeks,” and then Pamela and Flynn go upstairs and make love.
* Late-March: Flynn makes an excuse on why a halfhearted attempt to kill Gregg fails, and Pamela accuses him of not loving her.
* April: In her testimony, Pamela says she tried to break off her relationship with Flynn this month, and on several occasions he broke down and cried, and once said he wanted to kill himself. In late April, Flynn allegedly enlists the help of a second teen, Raymond Fowler, to help kill Gregg. Pamela lends Flynn her car to do the job, but he panics, purposely gets lost on his way to Derry, and is too late to kill Gregg.
* May 1: Pamela drives Flynn and his two friends, Vance Lattime Jr. and Patrick Randall, to Haverhill to borrow a car. The teens drive to Derry, eat pizza and plot Gregg’s murder. They break into Smart’s Derry condominium where Randall holds a knife to Gregg’s throat and forces him to his knees. With Gregg pleading for his life, Flynn shoots him in the head. Flynn would later tell the jury that he uttered, “God forgive me” just before pulling the trigger. Pamela ate lunch that day with about a dozen co-workers at the Library restaurant in downtown Portsmouth.
* June 10: Flynn, Lattime and Randall are charged with first-degree murder after another teen tells police he overheard them talking about the murder.
* June 19: Incriminating phone conversations between Pierce and Pamela are secretly recorded.
* July 12 and 13: Pierce visits Pamela in her school office and secretly records the most damning evidence against Pamela. The jury would later hear Pamela say she’s afraid of being sent to the “f. . .ing slammer for the rest of my life.” * August 1: Pamela is arrested.
* January 28, 1991: Flynn, Lattime Jr. and Randall plea bargain with the state and admit to second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against Pamela:
March 4: The trial against Pamela begins. For a week the prosecution presents its case, and brings Flynn to the stand where he breaks down in tears as he recounts the killing.
March 14: The secret tapes are played to the jury in what later will be called the turning- point testimony in the trial. Jurors admit after the verdict that it was the tapes that convinced them of Pamela’s guilt.
March 18: The defense begins its case and in a surprise move brings Pamela to the stand the first morning. She admits the affair with Flynn, but denies ever asking him to kill her husband.
March 20: The closing arguments are given and the jury adjourns to deliberate.
March 21: The jurors deliberate all day and Judge Douglas Gray decides that he finally will sequester them at 5 p.m.
March 22: Jury foreman Norma Honor delivers a guilty verdict against Pamela Smart on all counts. Pamela is sentenced to life.
March 23: The defense says it will appeal the case on at least 50 grounds, including the fact that the jury was not sequestered from the start of the trial. Leading defense attorneys from across New England predict a retrial will be granted, if not at the state level, then by the U.S. Supreme Court.
July 13, 1990 taped conversation at Smart’s office:
“Well, that time, if he hadn’t have forgotten directions he could have killed Greg then...” —Pierce
“I know,... “ —Smart
“... if Raymond (Fowler) hadn’t run his f...... mouth off this would have been the perfect murder ...“ —Pierce
“... Right.” —Smart
“... because they set everything up ... to look like a burglary just like you said ...“ —Pierce
“No s--- ... so it’s not my fault. 1f f--- --‘ Raymond...” —Smart
“Had not run his mouth off every- thing was set up perfect.” —Pierce
“No s...” —Smart
“... But what I was saying is if I’m I mean obviously I knew about it beforehand and if I get up there and lie and if then they find out about it after, I'm gonna get in trouble.” —Pierce
“Well if you didn’t know about it beforehand and you say you knew about it beforehand, you’re gonna be in trouble.” —Smart
“So you are better off just lying...” —Smart
“... All I know is that, uh, pretty soon J.R. is probably going to roll. He was supposedly only in the car, and pretty soon he is gonna be like f--- Pete and Bill, I’m not going to jail for the rest of my Goddamn f---- life, so he is going to turn against them and he is gonna blame me.” —Smart
“... that’s when I’m going to be in trouble. That’s when I am going to get arrested but I can probably get out of it because they are not going to have any proof, ya know. But that’s when I am gonna be arrested cuz J.R. -- I never said the words like J.R., I will pay you to kill Greg. I never said anything. JR. never talked to me about the murder or anything, ya know...They can’t convict me cuz of f----- J.R. 16-year-old’s word in the slammer facing the rest of his life.” —Sm art
“... Well first of all you didn’t offer to pay him right?” —Pierce
“So he’s not gonna say you offered to pay him, he’s going to say you knew about it before it happened which is the truth.” —Pierce
“Right - well so then I’ll have to say no I didn't amid then they’re gonna believe me or they are gonna believe J.R. 16 years old in the slammer. And then who me with a professional reputation and a course that I teach, that’s the thing.” —Smart
July 12, 1990 taped conversation:
“You didn’t have anything to do with anything, and even if they have, a phone, ah like one phone, phone conversation or something ...“ —Smart
“... with me and Bill, then I’d have to admit that yes I was having an affair with Bill; I am never going to admit it the fact that I asked that I told him that I hired them cuz I never paid them money, I never hired them.” —Smart
“You have to remember through this whole thing that he did ... they’re f---- old enough, you’re old enough to make your own decisions ... They did this all, I did not force anybody to do anything, they made their own decisions.” —Smart
Meet The Players In Real Life Drama
EXETER — Massive media attention introduced the world to the players in the Pamela Smart murder conspiracy case, and with the case headed for a lengthy appeal, Friday’s verdict was not the final curtain on this continuing real life drama.
At center stage is the defendant, Pamela A. (Wojas) Smart, an attractive 23-year-old school district employee convicted of persuading her teenage lover to carry out the May 1, 1990 execution-style murder of her husband Gregory Smart, 24.
Smart was born to Linda and John Wojas of Windham Aug. 16, 1967. A former cheerleader at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, she graduated with honors from Florida State University with a communications degree and aspired to become the next Barbara Walters.
She was arrested last August as an accomplice and conspirator to her husband’s murder and for witness tampering after a student intern secretly recorded conversations which ultimately convinced a jury of her guilt. Her attorneys are appealing the verdict. She maintains her innocence.
THE VICTIM: Gregory William Smart was born in Nashua Sept. 4, 1965 to William I. and Judith A. Smart, the second of three sons. After graduating from Londonderry High School in 1983, he followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a salesman for Metropolitan Insurance Co., in Nashua. Described as an all- American boy, Gregg (as his family spells his nickname) met Pamela at a New Year’s Eve party held at the Smart residence. They were married less than a year at the time of his death.
THE DEFENSE: While the jury decided otherwise, many observers of the Smart trial said they believed defense lawyers Paul Twomey and Mark Sisti introduced enough evidence to plant seeds of reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, and hence predicted a mistrial. While the lawyers are disappointed with the verdict, their in-court performance impressed spectators as they sought to discredit the key prosecution witnesses.
Twomey, 41, graduated from Yale in 1971 and worked as a special education teacher for three years before he earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1977. “I like protecting people’s rights,” he said in a pre-trial interview.
Sisti, 36, was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and worked as a steel worker, a mechanic and mental health counselor before graduating from Franklin Pierce Law School in 1979. He admitted the source of his attraction to criminal law was his affliction with “the Underdog Syndrome. I like taking care of folks.”
THE PROSECUTION: Assistant Attorney Generals Paul Maggiotto and Diane Nicolosi tackled the formidable job of proving the case against Smart beyond a reasonable doubt. They succeeded. Did they see the guilty verdict as a victory? “No Justice was served,” replied Maggiotto.
Years of experience as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, N.Y., apparently paid off in the courtroom where Maggiotto received spectators praise after cross-examining a cool and unflinching defendant. Maggiotto, 34, moved to the Seacoast a year ago for the quality of life, he said in a recent interview. He studied sociology and English as an undergraduate and earned his law degree at Northeastern University in 1984.
Co-prosecutor Diane Nicolosi, 32, earned a law degree from Franklin Pierce Law School in 1986, and her undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1980. She has three years experience as a state prosecutor.
THE JUDGE: Presiding Justice Douglas R. Gray, 57, was born in Portsmouth. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire and a law degree from Boston College in 1965. He was appointed a municipal court judge in 1973, and 10 years later was appointed a superior court justice.
Judge Gray presided over the State vs. George Gurney Jr. trial which ended in its second mistrial last year .