MSNBC Rita Cosby
MSNBC Rita Cosby
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Pam Smart speaks out from jail
Convicted of persuading teen lover to kill husband, proclaims innocence
- Pam Smart speaks
Oct. 5: A teacher-student affair ended in murder. Now, MSNBC-TV's Rita Cosby talks to Pam Smart from jail in an exclusive interview
Anchor, 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct'
And now to a LIVE & DIRECT exclusive. Several teacher-student sex scandals have gripped the country lately. But the case—the first one that sparked the nation and the media‘s attention was when Pam Smart was caught having sex with a student.
COSBY (voice-over): Pam Smart was a big-city girl who was now living in a small New Hampshire town, married to a good-looking, young insurance agent, enjoying what seemed to be the perfect suburban life, until she had a deadly affair with a 16-year-old student. She‘s now serving life in prison for plotting the murder of her husband, Gregg Smart.
At first, the brutal slaying looked like a robbery. But as more clues were uncovered, it appeared that Gregg Smart was actually murdered over love.
At the time, Pam Smart was having an affair with high school student Billy Flynn, who admits to shooting Pam‘s husband in the head.
WILLIAM FLYNN, CONVICTED OF MURDER: I pulled the trigger.
COSBY: The case was a media frenzy. The murder and details of sex, betrayal and infidelity made headlines worldwide.
When the investigation and trial finally ended, Pam, her teenage lover, and three of his friends were in jail for the murder. But the boys all struck a deal. Two are already out on the streets. The other two will be out in 2018. But Pam Smart, who was not even at the murder scene, was given the maximum.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m required and do hereby sentence you to the New Hampshire state prison for women for the remainder of your life without the possibility of parole.
COSBY: Pam Smart has already served 15 years in prison and is hoping one day she will be set free. She‘s been transferred to a maximum security prison in New York, which is where I recently caught up with her. And I asked her how the elicit romance with the 16-year-old student began.
COSBY: How did you meet him?
PAM SMART, IN PRISON FOR LIFE FOR CONSPIRACY TO KILL HUSBAND: I was in a facilitator for a project that he was also a facilitator. They had student facilitators and adult facilitators.
COSBY: What attracted you to a 16-year-old boy?
SMART: I feel like I was attracted probably to the fact that he was just a very nice person. He seemed like a very gentle person and someone who was—I don‘t know. He paid a lot of attention to me. And I wasn‘t feeling too good about myself at that time.
COSBY: Did you ever say to yourself, “This is wrong”?
SMART: I said it all the time.
COSBY: “I‘m 21. He‘s 16.”
SMART: All the time. All the time. I said it over and over to myself. I said it, um, you know, at least every day, more than once.
COSBY: Where did you have your trysts, if you will?
SMART: I saw him where I worked, at the building where I worked at, or I want to his house, or—I think he was at my house twice, once or twice.
COSBY: And you became physical?
SMART: Once, I think—yes, it became physical.
COSBY: Bill Flynn testified that you seduced him.
COSBY: Is that true?
SMART: Did I seduce him? No, I didn‘t seduce him. I think that it was just like—our lives just crossed at that moment.
COSBY: Let‘s talk about the night of the murder. You come home, and you see your husband‘s body.
COSBY: What did you think?
SMART: Well, initially, I didn‘t know that he was dead.
COSBY: Was there a pool of blood?
SMART: No. And that‘s when my eyes went around and came down, so initially, I thought, obviously the house was robbed, that something happened to the house, when I saw him. I yelled for his name. He didn‘t respond.
COSBY: How did you feel about your husband?
SMART: I loved him. I loved him a lot. And we were together for years before we actually got married.
COSBY: Were you in love?
SMART: Yes, I was.
COSBY: With the student, the 16-year-old student?
SMART: No. No. I feel like I loved him, but I wasn‘t in love with him, which is a different thing.
COSBY: Did you ask the student and his friends to kill your husband?
SMART: No, I did not. I didn‘t ask them to kill my husband. I didn‘t want them to kill my husband.
COSBY: Is it possible, even unintentionally, that he got the wrong message from you, and that was enough to inspire him to kill your husband?
SMART: It‘s possible that that happened. You know, obviously, I‘ve thought about this for years. I know that what I did say to him when I ended the relationship was that I want to be with my husband. And it‘s possible that, in his mind, that turned that into—if he wasn‘t here, then that means—then that means I‘d be available to Bill.
I don‘t know. There‘s a possibility that that was misconstrued.
COSBY: Why do you think the student, Bill Flynn, and the others say you drove them to do this?
SMART: Because they don‘t want to be in prison for the rest of their lives.
COSBY: So there...
SMART: That was the deal.
COSBY: And you were the fall guy?
SMART: That was the deal. That was the deal. They committed a first-degree cold-blooded murder. They actually could have faced the death penalty in New Hampshire.
COSBY: Do you feel the student, Bill Flynn, is responsible for putting you here?
SMART: Yes, he is, absolutely.
COSBY: You said that, even though you didn‘t pull the trigger, your bad choices essentially loaded the gun?
COSBY: How so?
SMART: Because I feel like that I know that, if I didn‘t have a relationship with Bill Flynn, my husband would still be alive. And I feel like I knew better. I knew that it was wrong and I did it anyways.
And I really feel a sense of responsibility for the fact that he‘s no longer here.
COSBY: When we come back, Pam Smart talks about spending the rest of her life behind bars knowing that the person who actually killed her husband could get out. Stay tuned.
COSBY: Pam Smart will spend the rest of her life in prison for conspiring to kill her husband, that after an elicit affair with a 16-year-old student in a quiet New England town. Here now, part two of my exclusive interview with Pam Smart, where she talks about her life in prison and the media.
COSBY: The media really went after you. The tabloids had a field day with you.
SMART: I think I was the first reality TV for a lot of shows. And it was like the fact that it actually preempted the soap opera and became the soap opera for a lot of people was just that it was almost surreal.
COSBY: Do you believe you did not get a fair trial because there was such a media circus?
SMART: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely my trial was not fair. And I had
I didn‘t even—I had no chance.
COSBY: How tough has it been here in prison?
SMART: Well, it‘s hard. It‘s not easy. I was assaulted in 1996 by two other inmates...
COSBY: Pretty badly. You had, what, a broken eye socket?
SMART: I had to have surgery. I had a plate inserted in my face.
And I can‘t feel anything on the left side of my face in here.
COSBY: You learned how to survive?
SMART: Yes, I learned how to survive.
COSBY: Four boys were involved. Two have gotten out on parole. Two will get out in 2018, but you have life in prison.
COSBY: Do you feel there‘s a double standard here?
SMART: There‘s a great disparity in the sentencing. And it‘s unfair that they actually admitted to committing this crime and being culpable for it and they‘re getting out of prison and I‘m still in prison for the rest of my life.
COSBY: You requested a sentence commutation in July.
COSBY: It was turned down?
COSBY: Will you keep fighting?
SMART: Yes. I will always keep fighting, because I know that I‘m in prison for something that I didn‘t do. And I‘m not going to give up, as long as I‘m alive. I‘m still going to keep fighting this.
COSBY: Do you think that you‘ll get out, that you‘ll get out of here someday?
SMART: Well, I believe in God. And I believe in his ability to make miracles. And I know that my case is going to need a miracle.
COSBY: Can you handle spending the rest of your life in here if that‘s what it comes to?
SMART: Wow. Sometimes I think about that and I think, like, what if I really never get out of here? Am I going to—I mean, how am I going to do this?
COSBY: As you look back at your case, what‘s your biggest regret?
SMART: Getting involved with Bill Flynn, ever having a relationship with him, ever.
COSBY: What can people learn from you?
SMART: What people can learn from me—probably, I guess, the biggest lesson that I have is that, when your head is telling you something‘s wrong, that your head is right. Your head is usually right.
And instinctively, intuitively we know—we are all our best moral compass. If I could ever teach anybody everything, it would be the dangers of not listening to your head when your head and your heart come in conflict.
COSBY: And you‘re paying a dear price for doing the opposite.
SMART: I‘m paying with my life. I‘m paying with my life.
COSBY: And joining me now are two people who know Pam Smart and her case very well. Robert Fowler is the brother of one of the four boys involved in the case. His brother, Raymond Fowler, was the only one, the only one out of four boys whom the prosecution did not put on the stand. He spent 12 years in prison and was released on parole in 2003.
We also have with us Dr. Eleanor Pam. She‘s an expert on women and violence, as well as a adviser and also family spokesperson for Pam Smart‘s family.
Robert, let me start with you, because did your brother, Ray, ever say to you that Pam Smart told him or any of the other boys to kill her husband?
ROBERT FOWLER, RAYMOND FOWLER‘S BROTHER: No. Actually, Raymond never talked about things about Pam, about any kinds of details, because I think his whole focus was really on what the boys did and what he heard the night of the murder and stuff in the car on the way home.
COSBY: But, Robert, did he believe that they were guided by Pam or not?
FOWLER: He didn‘t have much contact with Pam. And I don‘t think that he saw the big picture between Pam and Bill. He kind of saw them together and knew they were kind of seeing each other, but I don‘t think that that kind of connected with Bill and Pam and the murder. I don‘t think that‘s what he was thinking.
COSBY: Does he have any evidence that Pam Smart directed it?
FOWLER: No. He would not—nothing he testified to, to say that she actually, you know, coerced Bill and portrayed Bill in a way to make him do this.
COSBY: Why didn‘t the prosecution put your brother on the stand? Why do you think?
FOWLER: Well, we feel that the state effectively silenced the witness in this case because the jury never heard his testimony or his side of the story, which would be directed more towards what the boys did, and what he saw, and what the actions that they had. And we feel that the state didn‘t want him to go in there and portray the boys in a different light that what he saw.
COSBY: That‘s interesting.
Dr. Pam, let me go to you. But first, I want to show a clip. This is of teenager Cecilia Pierce, who was sort of put on by the cops to tape secretly—tape Pam. And this is the audio conversation that they had.
DR. ELEANOR PAM, SMART FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: Right, OK.
COSBY: Let me play a little clip of it.
CECILIA PIERCE, SMART‘S INTERN: ...if Raymond hadn‘t run his frigging mouth off, this would have been the perfect murder. Because they set everything up to look like a burglary, just like you said.
SMART: No (EXPLETIVE DELETED), so it‘s not my fault.
PIERCE: Well, first of all, you didn‘t offer to pay him, right?
PIERCE: So he‘s not going to say you offered to pay him. He‘s going to say you knew about it before it happened, which is the truth.
SMART: Right. Well, so then I‘ll have to say, “No, I didn‘t.”
COSBY: Now, coming out of that, we asked the prosecution about this.
First of all, tell me, what‘s your reaction? Is this tape genuine?
PAM: There‘s no way to know if it‘s genuine. It‘s never been authenticated. There was, in fact, a report that was issued by a former Secret Service man in 1994 in which he examined the tapes.
And he said that there were so many suspicious anomalies in the tapes that it cast serious doubt on their authenticity. There were starts and stops. There were gaps. And at least three or four machines were used, tape recording machines.
COSBY: Now, this was done, what? He did it in ‘94. Why are you bringing up it now?
PAM: We‘re bringing it up now because we‘re talking about it now. We have decided finally that Pam has spent so much time in prison unfairly. She did not have anything to do with this crime, and we decided to not rehabilitate Pam—there‘s nothing wrong with Pam—but to rehabilitate finally her reputation.
It‘s not anything that—we‘ve had possession of it. And now we‘re investigating it, and trying to make this an issue to look at more in-depth.
COSBY: And the prosecution did know. I want to show two comments. This is from the prosecutor at the time, the New Hampshire assistant district attorney, or assistant attorney general.
He said, quote, when we asked him about the tape, “This is the first I‘ve heard of it. If someone had that information, why would they have waited so long?”
We also asked him, “Is it unfair?” You know, because here she‘s spending all of these time in prison, life in prison. She wasn‘t even there at the crime scene. And this was his comment in response.
He said, “He”—and he‘s referring to Billy Flynn. This is, of course, her lover—“was remorseful and got 40 years to life. That‘s what happens when you‘re remorseful.”
Do you feel the sentence is inappropriate for her?
PAM: Absolutely. How can Pam Smart be remorseful when she didn‘t commit the crime? And that‘s the problem for all people who are innocent, that can‘t express or show remorse if they‘ve not done the thing in the first place.
So she‘s stuck. If she had lied and expressed remorse that she had no reason to feel, then they would have treated her just as well as they treated the boys, who were not only guilty, but who were pretending to express remorse.
COSBY: Well, I think this definitely brings up a lot of questions, especially of the fact that these guys are getting out. Two have already gotten out. Two will get out in a few years, and yet she hasn‘t been there at the night of the crime. Interesting.
PAM: There‘s something really wrong. What‘s wrong with this picture? Here‘s a woman who has consistently said, “I did not do this. I am innocent. I am innocent. I am innocent.” And she gets life without the possibility of parole.
And here are three boys who said, “Yes, I did it. Yes, we planned to do it. Yes, we wanted to do it.” And they get reduced sentences, and they can reclaim their lives.
COSBY: All right, thank you very much. Interesting case. Eleanor, thank you.
And also, Robert, thank you.
We‘ll be right back, everybody.
'I think I was the first reality TV for a lot of shows. And it was like the fact that it actually preempted the soap opera and became the soap opera for a lot of people was just that it was almost surreal."