To a large degree, the murder trial of Pamela Smart — accused of orchestrating the 1990 death of her husband, Gregg, at the hands of her 16-year-old lover and his friends — was a case of He Said (“She said the only way we could be together is if I killed her husband”)/She Said (“He somehow thought if my husband was dead, we’d be together”). And to some degree, both views seemed somewhat credible to the point where there was something needed to tip the scales — a fascinating situation fully explored in ID’s three-part docu-series Pamela Smart: An American Murder Mystery.
For those who have missed previous installments of this series, in May 1990, 24-year-old Gregg Smart returned to the rented New Hampshire condo he shared with his wife. Once through the door, he found himself accosted by two youths, one of whom forced him to his knees, while the other fired a bullet into his brain, killing him instantly. Initially reported as a burglary gone wrong, what unfolded was a tawdry tale of a 22-year-old who — whether she truly felt anything for him or not — used sex to get the teenager that worshipped her to do her bidding. The result is that along with Pam, arrested were Billy Flynn (her "boyfriend"), Pete Randall, J.R. Lattime, and Raymond Fowler.
But the person who had a great deal of information that the authorities was interested in — and who, it should be noted, was never charged with a crime — was 16-year-old Cecelia Pierce, a heavyset, shy, somewhat introverted girl who served as an intern to Pamela in the media center of Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, NH. The two of them had developed a close, sisterly relationship. Perhaps too close, to the point where Pam pretty much failed to set boundaries between them — even when she would have been better off doing so. Perfect example: Pam, her young lover Billy, and Cecelia hung out together all the time. The first time the couple made love, they left Cecelia downstairs in Pam's condo watching television while they went upstairs. Not knowing what was going on, Cecelia investigated and found them in the middle of the act, and went back downstairs, embarrassed.
Bottom line, Pam pretty much implicitly trusted Cecelia with everything. It’s the only explanation for the fact that, when the police were closing in on her, Amanda agreed to record her conversations with Pam, and Pam suspected nothing.
The resulting sound quality of those recordings were middling at best, but they definitely played a role in the decision that the jury came to during the trial — the response to which needs to be seen to be believed. That being said, below you’ll find a slightly edited (for clarity) version of some of those transcripts, and you can judge for yourself whether or not they served as a smoking gun in the trial of Pamela Smart.
July 13, 1990 Conversation
Cecelia Pierce: “That time, if he hadn’t forgotten directions, he [Billy] could have killed Greg then."
Pamela Smart: “I know.”
Cecelia Pierce: “If Raymond [Fowler] hadn’t run his f--king mouth off, this would have been the perfect murder.”
Pamela Smart: “Right.”
Cecelia Pierce: “Because they set everything up to look like a burglary, just like you said.”
Pamela Smart: “No sh-t. So it’s not my fault. If f--king Raymond…”
CeceliaPierce: “…Had not run his mouth off, everything was set up perfect."
Pamela Smart: “No sh-t.”
Cecelia Pierce: “But what I was saying is if… I mean, obviously I knew about it beforehand and if I get up there and lie and if then they find out about it after, I’m gonna get in trouble.”
Pamela Smart: “Well, if you didn’t know about it beforehand and you say you knew about it brefore hand, you’re gonna be in trouble… So you are better off just lying. All I know is that pretty soon J.R. is probably going to roll. He was supposedly only in the car, and pretty soon he is gonna be, like, ‘F--k Pete and Bill, I’m not going to jail for the rest of my Goddamn f--king life,’ so he is going to turn against them and he is gonna blame me.”
Cecilia Pierce: “Right.”
Pamela Smart: “That’s when I’m going to be in trouble. That’s when I am going to get arrested. But I can probably get out of it, because they are not going to have any proof, ya know? But that’s when I am gonna be arrested, cuz J.R… I never said the words, ‘J.R., I will pay you to kill Gregg.’ I never said anything. J.R. never talked to me about the murder or anything, ya know?...They can’t convict me cuz of f--king J.R.’s 16-year-old’s word in the slammer facing the rest of his life.”
Cecelia Pierce: “Well first of all, you didn’t offer to pay him, right?”
Pamela Smart: “No.”
Cecelia Pierce: “So he’s not gonna say you offered to pay him, he’s going to say you knew about it before it happened, which is the truth.”
Pamela Smart: “Right, so then I’ll have to say no I didn't admit it and then they’re gonna believe me or they are gonna believe J.R. 16 years old in the slammer. And then there’s me with a professional reputation and a course that I teach. That’s the thing.”
July 12, 1990 Conversation Recorded on Tape
Pamela Smart: “Even if they have, like one phone conversation or something with me and Bill, then I’d have to admit that, yes, I was having an affair with Bill. I am never going to admit the fact that I… hired them, cuz I never paid them money, I never hired them. You have to remember through this whole thing that he did ... they’re f--king old enough to make their own decisions... They did this all, I did not force anybody to do anything, they made their own decisions.”
And even with all of that, there were still plenty more twists to come, as you can witness by watching ID’s Pamela Smart: An American Murder Mystery, debuting Sunday, Aug. 19.