Pamela Smart’s Life Sentence Request Reaches New Hampshire’s Highest Court
Pamela Smart, who is serving a life-without-parole sentence for plotting with her teenage lover to kill her husband in 1990, has taken her request for a chance at freedom to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
Smart’s attorney, Mark Sisti, argued that the state’s five-member Executive Council did not spend any time reviewing Smart’s voluminous petition, which included letters of support from inmates, supervisors, and others, before rejecting her sentence reduction request in less than three minutes in March.
The trial of Smart, who was 22 and working as a high school media coordinator when she began an affair with a 15-year-old student, drew national attention and was the basis for the 1995 film “To Die For,” starring Nicole Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix.
The teen, William Flynn, and three other teens cooperated with prosecutors, served shorter sentences, and have been released. Smart has served over 30 years in prison and has exhausted all of her judicial appeal options.
The attorney general’s office opposed Smart’s commutation requests, arguing that she has never accepted full responsibility for the crimes. But Sisti argued that a life-without-parole sentence should hitch onto something: hope.
In addition to earning two master’s degrees in a Bedford Hills, New York, prison, Smart has tutored fellow inmates, has been ordained as a minister, and is part of an inmate liaison committee. In her last petition, she said she is remorseful and has been rehabilitated.
At the hearing, Sisti asked the Supreme Court to order the Executive Council to reconsider Smart’s request, arguing that they had not given her a “meaningful, minimal due process hearing.”
The Supreme Court did not make a decision at the hearing, but their ruling could have a huge impact on Smart’s future. Whether or not she will be granted a chance at freedom remains to be seen.