CONCORD, NH (AP) — An attorney for Pamela Smart, who is serving a life sentence without parole for plotting with her teenage lover to kill her husband in 1990, argued Tuesday that a state council “pushed aside” her request have a chance at liberty and asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to order the panel to reconsider.
Smart’s longtime attorney Mark Sisti argued the five-member council did not spend time considering Smart’s lengthy petition – which included many letters of support from inmates, supervisors and others – or even discussing it before submitting her request for a reduced sentence in had rejected less than three minutes in March.
“I’m asking the only place I can go — the only place Pam can go — to say, ‘Just do your job,'” Sisti said.
Associate Justice James Bassett asked: “And what does that mean? What are we going to say?”
To which Sisti replied, “A meaningful, minimal procedural hearing that we even get at the Department of Motor Vehicles.”
Last year was the third time Smart, who has served over 30 years in prison, asked the Executive Council for a hearing. The now 55-year-old has exhausted all her legal avenues of appeal and must go to the council for a sentence change. Previous petitions were rejected in 2005 and 2019.
Smart was 22 and working as a high school media coordinator when she began an affair with a 15-year-old student who later shot and killed her husband Gregory Smart in 1990. Although she denied knowledge of the conspiracy, she was convicted of conspiring to commit murder and other crimes and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Teenager William Flynn and three other teenagers cooperated with prosecutors, served shorter sentences and were released.
The trial was a media circus and one of the first high-profile cases of a sexual affair between a school staff member and a student. Joyce Maynard wrote To Die For in 1992, drawing back to the Smart case. This inspired a 1995 film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix.
The story goes on
The attorney general’s office denied Smart’s commutation requests, saying she never accepted full responsibility for the crimes.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Laura Lombardi argued on Tuesday that Smart “has no legitimate constitutional interest in having her sentence commuted” and that the case should not go to court.
“This is a matter of mercy and grace held by the executive branch,” she said.
Gov. Chris Sununu had the opportunity to put the conversion motion on the council’s agenda and did so, she said. She said the governor and council are not required to set rules for the process.
Sisti said a life sentence should be tied to something: hope.
“I’m asking you to give Pam Smart that little clue, that little crack in the door where she can have hope,” he said.
In addition to earning two master’s degrees from a prison in Bedford Hills, New York, Smart has taught fellow inmates, been ordained a minister, and serves on an inmate liaison committee. In her last petition, she said she was repentant and had been redeemed. She apologized to Gregory Smart’s family.