CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – A second New Hampshire man who helped kill Pamela Smart’s husband 25 years ago in a lurid case that inspired sensational media coverage was granted parole Thursday after being warned to stay away from the victim’s family at all costs.
Patrick Randall was 16 in May 1990 when he held a knife to Gregory Smart’s throat as Billy Flynn, who was Pamela Smart’s then-16-year-old lover, shot him in the head.
Flynn was paroled last month; Smart is serving life without parole after being convicted of plotting the murder.
Now 41, Randall won parole Thursday at his first hearing and will be released after June 4. He told the Smart family that he understands what he took from them.
“Nothing I can say can make it better,” said Randall, turning in his chair to look directly at Gregory Smart’s brother and other relatives. Randall’s parents and aunt sat in the back of the hearing but made no statements.
Randall said nearly losing his mother and having his grandfather die while he was in prison gave him “a slight inclination” about what it must be like to lose a loved one, but Dean Smart, Gregory’s brother, wasn’t moved.
“There’s no comparison,” Dean Smart said. “If you had actually lost your mother, imagine it being in the news every day for 25 years.”
Before parole was granted, Smart’s family was candid about how it felt about Randall.
“I am deathly afraid of this man,” said Gregory Smart’s aunt, Debbie Smart. “He murdered my nephew.”
The family asked the parole board to ban Randall from several cities and towns, including the state’s biggest city, Manchester. After discussion, the three-member parole board barred Randall from the smaller towns but said Randall could go to Manchester for things like medical or counseling appointments as long as his parole officer knew and he didn’t make any side trips.
Smart was media coordinator at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, where both boys were students, when she first seduced Flynn in the months before her husband was killed. Flynn testified that she told him she needed her husband killed because she feared she would lose everything if they divorced. He said she threatened to break up with him if he didn’t kill Gregory Smart.
On May 1, 1990, Randall and Flynn entered the Smarts’ Derry condominium and forced Gregory Smart to his knees in the foyer. As Randall held a knife to the man’s throat, Flynn fired a hollow-point bullet into his head.
The trial was a media circus and one of the first high-profile cases about a sexual affair between a school staff member and student. It inspired the Joyce Maynard novel “To Die For,” which in turn was made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman.
Randall and Flynn pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and after plea bargains eventually got sentences of 28 years to life. In March 2009, a judge knocked three years off Randall’s sentence over the objection of prosecutors who noted that he was involved in a jailhouse assault 15 years before. The judge said Randall’s record otherwise had been spotless and that he had shown extreme remorse. Two other teenagers served prison sentences and have been released.
Pamela Smart, who was 22 when her husband was killed, was convicted of being an accomplice to first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole. She has admitted seducing the boy but said she didn’t plan her husband’s murder. She was moved to a women’s prison in New York state for unspecified security reasons.
Smart has consistently lobbied for her release, maintaining after Flynn was granted parole that if the person who pulled the trigger could be freed, she deserves the same chance.
“Randall and his co-conspirators, acting in concert and with cold premeditation, ended two lives: Gregg Smart’s and Pamela’s, too,” said Eleanor Pam, a spokeswoman for Pam Smart. “Randall can now reclaim his life, but they will not.”
After Randall won parole, Gregory Smart’s uncle, James Smart, said forgiveness is still elusive.
“No, not yet,” he said. “Maybe someday. Throughout this whole thing, it’s always been about Pam and Billy and everybody forgot about Gregg.”