New Hampshire teacher Pam Smart was convicted of persuading her teen lover and his friends to kill her husband more than a decade ago.
She opened up to MSNBC-TV's Rita Cosby in a recent interview from the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, where she is serving her life sentence. Smart talked about her affair with a student, Bill Flynn, whether she asked him to murder her husband, and how she feels like she was the first subject of 'reality' television.
To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.
RITA COSBY: How did you meet (Bill Flynn)?
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. ... 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: 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 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? 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.
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