Sununu says he'll bring to council all pardon requests, including any petition from Pamela Smart in her husband's murder
Written by NH1 News Political Director Paul Steinhauser on .
CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu says if he receives a petition for a pardon from Pamela Smart, he’ll “bring that request” to New Hampshire’s Executive Council.
Smart is serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for her role in the May 1990 murder of her husband Gregory. She was convicted for enlisting her teenage lover William “Billy” Flynn and three of his friends to kill her husband.
The case and trial grabbed national headlines and was the basis for the book “To Die For,” which was turned into a movie starring Nicole Kidman.
“I believe she has requested a pardon of every new governor as they’ve come in and so I suspect we will receive that pardon request,” Sununu said Wednesday morning in an interview with host Jack Heath on “New Hampshire Today.”
Asked later Wednesday by NH1 News if he’d bring Smart’s request to the council, Sununu answered “all pardon requests will come to the council for discussion. Absolutely. The previous administration did not do that. That was wrong. But all pardon requests are a matter of governor and council and that’s the way they’ll be treated.”
If a request comes to the council they would vote on whether to hold a hearing. If such a hearing was held, with a majority vote the council could then grant Smart access to a parole board, but New Hampshire law gives the governor veto power over the council.
Asked by NH1 News if he thought Smart deserved to be pardoned, Sununu answered “we’ll leave it to the council on whether we either have a hearing or not. We’re not even there yet.”
In 2005, Gov. John Lynch said that he believed that “Smart’s crimes were brutal. She was fairly convicted by a jury of New Hampshire citizens and she was fairly sentenced.”
But the new governor gave the council permission to take up Smart’s request to reduce her sentence. The five-member council followed Lynch’s lead by voting unanimously to deny Smart a pardon hearing.
Smart had argued during several failed appeals in court that she didn’t receive a fair trial because of the intense media attraction her case attracted.
Two years ago Gov. Maggie Hassan said she didn't feel that Smart deserved to be pardoned.
“There is not an outstanding pardon or commutation petition for Pamela Smart. Governor Hassan does not believe jury verdicts should be overturned without clear evidence of a miscarriage of justice, and at this time, the Governor has not been presented any new information that would warrant consideration of a pardon even if such a petition existed,” the governor’s communications director William Hinkle said at the time.
Gov. Chris Sununu speaks with NH1 News on April 5, 2017