Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex, Lies & Murder: The Pamela Smart Case

The Hanging Judge

"I never would have killed Greg if it wasn't for Pame," testified Billy Flynn

Judge Douglas Gray of the Rockingham County Superior Court, assigned the Smart case, was seated at the bench in front of the American and New Hampshire flags. Mounted on the wall behind him was a gold American eagle, wings spread, carved by his own hands. An imposing six foot five, at fifty-seven, Judge Gray also had an imperious nature to go along with it. Dubbed the "Hanging Judge," in the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord, his intimidating reputation behind the bench preceded him.

Pamela entered the courtroom wearing a dark blue suit, thinner than she was when first arrested. She had lost so much weight that her mother had to pin her skirt to fit before court started. Her hair had been recently highlighted and she wore it longer.

Prosecutor Diane Nicolosi began her opening statement: "On May 1st, 1990, Gregory Smart came home from a late business meeting. ...He opened his front door, he turned on his lights, and he called for his dog. But his dog didn't respond that night."

Billy Flynn testifying (AP)
Billy Flynn testifying
(AP)

For the first time the public would hear firsthand about what happened that evening. In Billy's riveting testimony as he knelt before the jury, showing them the way that it happened with Greg that night, he said, "I cocked the hammer back and pointed the gun at his head," he said, nearly whispering, his head bowed. "I just stood there...for a hundred years, it seemed like."

"I said, 'God, forgive me.'...I pulled the trigger."

Pam Smart taking the oath (AP)
Pam Smart taking the oath (AP)

The Smart murder trial was all about control. The question was whether Pam manipulated and controlled Billy Flynn, and, in turn, his friends, to kill her husband. While Pam acknowledged having a sexual liaison with Billy, she denied any foreknowledge of the murder. She said that she was only pretending to know about it in her taped conversation with Cecelia Pierce, so that she could further the investigation. Near the end of her testimony she spoke out to prosecutor Paul Maggiotto: "If I was guilty, I would have pled guilty and plea-bargained like the rest of them."

"Ladies and gentlemen," Nicolosi concluded, "we are sure that when you hear the testimony of William Flynn, Patrick Randall, Vance Lattime Jr., Cecelia Pierce, and all of the other witnesses that we'll present to you at this trial, that you will come to the only possible verdicts in this case. At the close of the trial, Paul Maggiotto will stand before you and he will ask that you return three verdicts of guilty."

Pam Smart convicted (AP)
Pam Smart convicted
(AP)

After the jury deliberated for 13 hours, on March 22nd, they did just that, bringing back a guilty verdict. Judge Gray immediately sentenced Smart to life without parole on the count of accomplice to first-degree murder. Another hearing would see her sentenced on two other counts, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and witness tampering.

Fowler, just out of jail and probably wanting the money, was also involved in an early attempt to ambush Greg Smart and was waiting in the car with J.R. the night Greg was killed. Although in his affidavit he claims that he was not aware of any murder and had just gone along for the ride, his failure to report the attempt and of his cleaning the murder weapon cost him 30 years in a separate prosecution.

Flynn and Randall, certified as adults, turned state's evidence in January, received 40 years; Lattime got 30 years. It was their testimony, along with Welch's statements, and Pierce's tapes that ended up being the most incriminating.

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