Private Investigation Files: Pamela Smart

A little over 20 years ago, Gregory Smart was murdered in Derry, New Hampshire. The single murder investigation in the area that year, it hit the airwaves and spread across the media channels. The murderer was 16-year old Bill Flynn, helped by some of his friends. The conclusion was shocking. It was even more shocking, however, when Pamela Smart, Gregg’s wife, was arrested as an accomplice to murder in the first degree.

It’s hard for Pamela’s family to believe she’s guilty. You may think they don’t believe she’s guilty as she’s part of their family. However, Dr. Eleanor Pam, well versed in family violence, women and violence, and incarcerated women, believes in Pam’s innocence as well. As the lead investigator in Pamela’s case on behalf of the family, I also believe in her innocence. Even the family of Raymond Fowler, one of those who helped Flynn get away with murder, are unconvinced of Pamela’s guilt.

Pam had the unfortunate “luck” of having the first fully televised, live case in the U.S. Not only did the whole U.S. watch the trial; so did the defendants, watching each other testify from their jail cells. Even most of you with little background in court cases know that those testifying on the stand aren’t supposed to be able to hear others’ testimonies. In the case of Pamela Smart, however, they did.

Pamela’s case was ill handled from the beginning. In fact, the only part of the case that the prosecution could prove was that Pamela had an affair with Flynn, which she willingly admitted.

Flynn, however, testified that Pamela used sex to manipulate him into killing her husband. Somehow, it never caught anyone’s attention that this testimony is the only thing that kept Flynn from serving a life sentence for murder. Instead, Flynn received a reduced sentence of second-degree murder for testifying against Pam Smart.

Cecelia Pierce, who helped get poor quality wiretap recordings of Pamela, wasn’t an emancipated minor, although parental consent was missing on one of the forms. She knew ahead of time that the boys were going to kill Gregg Smart, but was given immunity for her testimony. While testifying, she had a $100,000 contract with a movie company for the rights.

The tapes from Ms. Pierce were of such poor quality that no one could understand them in court. The judge had the transcripts written up; they were then sold to the press for $15 a copy. Amazingly, the states’ expert witness for the tapes said he hadn’t authenticated the tapes because no one asked him to. Somehow, tapes that couldn’t be clearly understood and weren’t authenticated (yet were made into dubious transcripts) became pivotal evidence against Pamela Smart.

Bill Flynn, who admitted to killing Gregory Smart in 1990, got a reduced sentence of 40 years to life with 12 years suspended. In 2008, he was granted yet another 3 year sentence reduction and became eligible for parole in 2015.

Patrick Randall, who helped physically restrain Gregg while Flynn pulled the trigger, received a sentence of 40 years to life with 12 years suspended. He’s also eligible for parole in 2015.