On March 22, 1991, in a New Hampshire courtroom, Pamela Smart was found guilty on three charges against her, the most serious of which was being an accomplice to first degree murder. If accomplice means manipulating her young lover, Bill Flynn, into carrying out the murder of her husband, Gregg, with the aid of three of his friends, then it sounds like the jury gave her what she deserves. And that’s where the story should have ended over 25 years ago, but Investigation Discovery’s three-part series Pamela Smart: An American Murder Mystery — which will have its premiere on Sunday, Aug. 19 — actually brings things to the present, where there are a growing number of people who believe that she was the victim of a vast conspiracy.
“It was in the papers every day,” offers private investigator Tom Nickels. “She was hung before she was found guilty.”
Adds Pam’s defense lawyer Mark Sisti, “There’s no question that the image that the media was portraying was the one that would sell daytime drama TV. It was terribly harmful and painted an image we couldn’t scrub out.”
“You’re supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty,” says her friend, Tracy Paris, “but Pam had already been tried and convicted in the media.”
Bill Flynn and his co-conspirators, after serving decades in prison, are now free men, while Pamela remains in jail, which fuels the controversy for some people. Speaking of Bill, prosecutor Paul Maggiotto comments, “Pam Sharp got her psyche into this kid’s hormones so that he would have done anything for her. He was a love sick puppy. Then he recruited [the others] to help him. Certainly Bill’s testimony was very compelling and very emotional. We could see he was very remorseful”
Sisti doesn’t agree: “Flynn had months to perfect his acting debut, and he did a great job. That was not something that just came out in court, that was something that was premeditated just like the murder was premeditated. These individuals worked together; they were co-conspirators. If four teenagers are capable of killing a human being, they’re capable of doing just about anything.”
During the trial, Maggiotto had asked Pam while she was on the stand, “Do you want this jury to understand that Bill Flynn decided to kill your husband because you broke up with him?”
“I want this jury to understand the truth,” she replied.
“Why do you think he did this?” the prosecutor wanted to know.
Pam stated, “Probably because he thought we could be together.”
One of the true highlights of An American Murder Mystery is a present-day interview with Pamela conducted by investigative journalist Diane Dimond. During it, Pam comments, “The only thing that I said was that I don’t want to be with you, because I want to be with Gregg. Whether that translated in to, ‘If he wasn’t here, then I could have you?’, I don’t know. I’m not in Bill Flynn’s brain, so I can’t answer that. However, I know I never suggested that, I never wished Gregg dead. I loved Gregg. I did.”
Asked Dimond, “All the testimony from the kids in this case put you as the mastermind of this plot to murder your husband. Why would they concoct a story like that?”
“That was the only way for them to avoid the death penalty at that time,” Pam replies. “The deal from the state of New Hampshire for them was to testify against me to save their own lives. Why would they not collude together? Bill Flynn got them into this mess, however you cut it. Whether you think I’m guilty or innocent, they all said they did it for Bill.”
But did Bill do it for Pam?
The mystery is a fascinating one, quickly revealing that what you think you know about the Pamela Smart murder trial, is only part of the story.
Pamela Smart: An American Murder Mystery premieres Sunday, Aug. 19 on ID.