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HAMPTON — Pamela Smart has filed a new petition seeking clemency from her life sentence without the chance of parole, apologizing and taking responsibility for her actions that led to the murder of her husband Gregg.
"It took years, even decades, for me to accept responsibility and I must carry that burden, alone and deservedly, for the rest of my life recognizing that the pain and suffering I caused are irreparable," Smart wrote in a letter to the governor and Executive Council apologizing to Gregg Smart's family, her family and "all who were directly or indirectly impacted by my actions and misjudgment."
"This burden is something I can never- and should never- be free of, because my actions have forever changed the course of many lives, including my own."
Smart, 54, has spent half her life in prison after being convicted of being an accomplice to murder on March 22, 1991.
Smart's attorney, Robert E. Juceam, recently filed the 300-plus-page petition with the attorney general's office requesting a hearing from the governor and the state Executive Council.
Gov. Chris Sununu and the council rejected her previous request in 2019 without holding a hearing.
'I never stood a chance': Pamela Smart trial, a three-decades-old frenzy, then and now
"We are hopeful this time that she gets a hearing and that we can make her case," said Dr. Eleanor Pam, who served as Smart's academic adviser and later became her advocate and spokesperson. "She certainly deserves a hearing and for my money, she deserves much more than that. She deserves to be released."
Smart was 22 in 1990 when she was accused of enlisting then-16-year-old William “Billy” Flynn, with whom she was having an affair, and three of his friends to kill her husband Greggory on May 1, 1990, and make it look like a botched burglary. A media coordinator at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton at the time of her husband’s murder, Smart admitted to the affair but denied her involvement in the murder.
In recent years, she said she has come to terms with her role in the murder saying that if she never had an affair with Flynn, Gregg would be alive today.
Everyone charged in the case except Smart has since been paroled after reaching deals for reduced sentencing in exchange for their testimony against Smart.
Patrick "Pete" Randall, who held a knife to Greggory Smart’s face as his friend shot him in the head, was paroled on June 4, 2015. Vance Lattime, who supplied the car and the murder weapon to kill Greggory Smart, was released on parole on Aug. 8, 2015, while Raymond Fowler, who went along for the ride, was paroled in 2003.
Flynn, who shot Smart execution-style, was released in 2015 after serving almost 25 years in prison.
Pamela Smart's 1991 trial: Where are they now?
This is the third time Smart has filed a petition for clemency as it was also rejected in 2017 without a hearing.
The case Pamela Smart is making for clemency
Eleanor Pam said the petition is not about "relitigating the case."
"We are looking for executive grace," Pam said. "Clemency is supposed to be about whether the person is rehabilitated and what their contributions to society and in the prison have been. If you look at the petition you can see that Pame's progress and achievements have been more than remarkable."
While in prison, Smart has received two master’s degrees, one in criminal law and another in English literature, and became an ordained minister.
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Pam said Smart recently received a doctorate in Biblical studies and is currently enrolled in a Master of Professional Studies program.
The petition details her work with mentoring and tutoring prisoners in their academic pursuits as well as working with prisoners with mental illness, special needs and those with HIV and AIDS.
It includes 19 letters in support of commutation from current and former prisoners she has helped over the years and 19 from prison staff and program leaders who speak highly of her including one from Elaine Lord, who served as the Bedford Hills superintendent from 1984 to 2014.
"Ms. Smart has been incarcerated for over 30 years and is over 50 years old," wrote Lord. "In her early 20s, she received a sentence of life without parole. This sentence fails to recognize that people who are incarcerated for many years mature, change, and set goals for themselves. I believe Ms. Smart is one of those people."
It also includes letters of support from Joyce Maynard, the author of "To Die For" a fictional book made into a movie loosely based on the Smart case starring Nicole Kidman, and feminist icons V, formerly Eve Ensler, and Gloria Steinem.
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Steinem wrote Smart "deserves to be released back into freedom, and the larger society deserves her work and contribution."
What's not included in any of the 80-plus letters is one from the Smart family.
Gregg Smart’s mother Judy died from neurological disease eight years after her son's death. His father William died in 2010 after a battle with pancreatic cancer and up until his death had been vocal against any sentence reduction for Pamela Smart because she never admitted her role in the murder.
Pam said Smart has reached out to the family, but they have not responded.
"Pame has reached out three times trying to communicate with them and to apologize to them," Pam said. "They just have not responded."
Pam said all Smart wants is a hearing to make her case.
"She has never been given the review that really was proper, due her and that was deserved," said Pam. "This has gone on so long and she has worked so hard to redeem herself and it shows and it's reflective in the petition."
The petition is currently with the attorney general's office, who will file their position before passing it on to the governor and Executive Council.
The attorney general's office in 2019 opposed the petition noting that evidence against Smart was overwhelming and that she “has never accepted full responsibility.”
Sununu said the process will be the same as any other commutation or pardon request – including Pam Smart’s 2019 request.
"Once the Attorney General’s Office files a request for a commutation, the Executive Council will decide whether to hold a hearing on the matter," Sununu said in a prepared statement. "Here in New Hampshire, we have a fair and thorough process, and it is important to let the process play out.”
According to her petition, Smart says if released she wants to care for her elderly parents "who are in declining health and are suffering because of my poor judgments and inexcusable acts."
The petition includes a new letter from Smart's parents Linda and John Wojas, who stated they have been in "prison" too as they lost their daughter who they still believe is innocent to this day.
"She is truly remorseful for her indiscretion (the affair) for which she is guilty," they wrote. "...Please show Pamela the mercy that the state has shown the admitted murderers. Please help us heal our fractured family and allow us to bring our daughter home."
Smart ended her letter to the governor and Executive Council stating her debt to society demands massive restitution "and a commitment, not just to being good - but doing good. I pledge to do so with all my heart."
This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Pamela Smart seeks ‘mercy’ in bid for clemency