Pamela Smart, who is serving a life sentence, takes responsibility for the first time for the murder of her husband in 1990

Pamela Smart is serving a life sentence for plotting to murder her husband with her teenage student in 1990. In a video statement released Tuesday as part of her latest bid to reduce her sentence, she took full responsibility for his death for the first time.

Smart, 56, was a 22-year-old high school media coordinator when she began an affair with a 15-year-old boy who later shot her husband, Gregory Smart, in Derry, New Hampshire. The gunman was released in 2015 after serving a 25-year prison sentence. Although Pamela Smart denied knowledge of the plot, she was found guilty of complicity in premeditated murder and other crimes and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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Pamela Smart has been in prison for nearly 34 years. In her statement, she said her experience in a writing group made her “start to think more deeply about her own responsibility.” “The group encouraged us to go beyond ourselves and to places we didn't want to be.”

“It was really hard for me because when I went to those places, I became responsible for something that I absolutely did not want to be responsible for: the murder of my husband,” she said, her voice shaking. “I had to acknowledge for the first time in my own mind and my own heart how responsible I was, because I had been denying the blame the whole time, almost as if it was a coping mechanism, because the truth of being so responsible was very difficult for me.”

She asked for an “honest conversation” with New Hampshire's five-member Executive Council, which approves state contracts and appointments to courts and state agencies, and with Gov. Chris Sununu. The council rejected her final request in 2022, and Smart appealed to the state Supreme Court, which dismissed her petition last year.

Val Fryatt, a cousin of Gregory Smart, told the Associated Press that Smart “beat around the bush” and took full responsibility “without admitting the facts that made her 'fully responsible.'”

Fryatt noted that Smart did not mention her cousin's name “once” in the video.

Messages seeking comment on the petition and statement were sent to council members, Sununu and the Attorney General's office.

Smart is serving her sentence at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, New York. She has earned two master's degrees behind bars and has also taught fellow inmates, been ordained as a minister and served on an inmate liaison committee. She said she is remorseful and has been rehabilitated.

The trial was a media circus and one of the first high-profile cases in America involving a sexual affair between a school employee and a student. Joyce Maynard wrote “To Die For” in 1992, referring to the Smart case. This inspired a 1995 film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix. The murderer, William Flynn, and three other teenagers cooperated with the prosecution. They served shorter prison sentences and have since been released.

Anna Harden

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