Twenty-five years ago America was glued to the TV, watching a teacher-student affair resulting in murder. I can still see that kid crying on the stand while admitting what he’d done: he said he was a virgin before meeting the teacher and he loved her with the “reptilian-brain” love of a 15-year-old boy. He was guilty as hell and deserved prison but I felt bad for him, all the same.
The story was so juicy that it inspired a novel and movie called “To Die For.” This year the triggerman is being paroled.
In 1990, William Flynn was a 15-year-old student at Winnacunnet High in Hampton, NH. That same year, volunteered for a school drug awareness program called “Project Self-Esteem” and met Pamela Smart, the 22-year-old married Director of Media Services. At some point, Smart seduced Flynn and they became lovers.
Smart urged Flynn to kill her husband, 24-year-old Gregg Smart, so she would not suffer the financial setbacks of a divorce and would receive $140,000 in life insurance proceeds. Flynn’s reluctance to kill Gregg Smart was overcome by Pam Smart’s threat to withhold sex from Flynn if he failed to kill her husband. With the help of 3 friends, Flynn killed Gregg Smart on May 1, 1990.
The conspiracy unraveled rather quickly and by August 1, 1990, Flynn, his 3 friends and Pamela Smart were all arrested for 1st degree murder, conspiracy and related charges. Flynn pleaded guilty to 2nd degree murder and agreed to testify at the trial of Pamela Smart, which he did.
The trial was a national sensation with Flynn’s tearful testimony about how and why he fatally shot Gregg Smart. Pamela Smart, who maintained her innocence, was convicted of being an accomplice to first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and witness tampering. Flynn was sentenced to 28 years, with the possibility of parole. Smart was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Twenty-five years later the 41-year-old Flynn was granted parole on his first attempt, largely due to his accomplishments while incarcerated. In prison Flynn earned a college degree, became a journeyman electrician, functioned well in the community during a work release program and got married. There are mixed reactions to Flynn’s parole: some believe he should have been confined for life; others believe he served his sentence, accomplished a great deal while in prison and should be freed.
Pamela Smart remains in prison.
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