By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
Proving her daughter’s innocence has been the life’s work of Linda Wojas for almost 30 years, passion that she has poured into writing the just published book “To Live For, a Mother’s Cry for Justice” hoping it will help uncover new information that will finally lead to Pam Smart’s freedom.
Wojas said the self-published book, which went on sale this week on Amazon, has been four years in the works and incorporates a great deal of material from Smart’s journals, written while she serves life with no chance for parole at the Bedford Hills Correctional Center for Women in New York state.
“I’m not dying without getting the truth out,” Wojas said in a telephone interview.
Smart, a school media coordinator, was convicted of being an accomplice to murdering her husband Gregg Smart. Prosecutors said she used sex to coerce her teen lover Billy Flynn to kill Gregg on May 1, 1990 in their Derry condominium with help from three Seabrook friends while Smart was at a school board meeting.
The book includes photos, documents, news clippings and evidence that Wojas says were either overlooked or never seen by the jury – some of it collected over the years – after what became the televised trial of the century well before the O.J. Simpson spectacle.
Wojas is 78 and the saga of Pam Smart is as much about Wojas as it is about Smart – who is now 52 and earned two master’s degrees while in prison as she continues to advocate for other inmates – as Wojas has spent every day of those years trying to right the wrong she sees in her daughter’s conviction.
It should be a time of at least some satisfaction for having finished the book, but Wojas worried that the attention will bring out people she describes as the “haters.” No matter how much good Smart does behind bars – recently she donated some of her extra bar soap ration to fight COVID-19 to women in a different ward who didn’t get it – there are people who just hate Smart and will not be convinced otherwise, Wojas said.
But it will be worth it if something good can come from informing the public, she said. And people are likely to find information about the case they never knew before, Wojas said.
Wojas mentioned one expert report completed after the trial that indicated problems with the tape recording that jurors heard that the state used to prove Smart’s guilt. And letters Billy Flynn, who pulled the trigger killing Gregg, and his friends wrote from jail while awaiting trial that show a very different side of the four friends, she said.
Flynn and his friends have been released from prison. Flynn was paroled in 2015.
Smart has admitted to an affair with Flynn, but has always maintained her innocence in Gregg’s murder.
After four years of writing and gathering both her own words and including a great deal of Pam’s prison journals, Wojas chose the words “To Live For” as a take-off on the Joyce Maynard novel “To Die For” that was turned into a sensational movie starring Nicole Kidman.
It painted the character that was loosely based on Smart as a ruthless predator. Maynard has since advocated for Smart’s release as have a growing number of people. But that didn’t sway the Executive Council who last May voted against hearing Smart’s commutation request.
The introduction of “To Live For” says:
“On March 22, 1991 after a 14-day trial in Rockingham County Superior Court, New Hampshire, my daughter Pamela Smart was wrongfully found guilty in the murder of her husband, Gregory Smart.”
It goes on to explain that Smart was given life without parole at age 22.
“My daughter did not commit these crimes. I’m not saying this because she’s my daughter, but there was no credible forensic evidence to prove she had any role in Gregory’s murder.”
“…Nicole’s Kidman’s portrayal of Pamela’s life in the cult film ‘To Die For’ is just one example of the way the media has exploited her pain, our family tragedy.”
Concord Attorney Paul Maggiotto prosecuted the Smart case when he was with the state Attorney General’s Office. He is steadfast in his belief that she received a fair trial.
“I don’t think Pam Smart’s mother is ever going to stop advocating for her,” Maggiotto said.
“That doesn’t change the facts of the case.”
Maggiotto said he hasn’t read the book, but doubts there is information that hasn’t been heard before.
“If they really had new evidence, they would have filed a motion for a new trial by now,” Maggiotto said.
Wojas said she will never give up. She hopes people will look at her book with a fresh perspective, not clouded by what she remembers as the “media circus” trial in which her daughter was convicted. Even jurors will see new documents that never made it into the trial, she said.
“I’ve bottled up my feelings for 30 years now and finally decided to release personal and revealing letters between Pamela and myself, to share with the public so people can see the truth behind all the lies,” Wojas said in the introduction.
“This is the first journal I am releasing. We have lots more to come. I will continue to fight for Pamela’s freedom because she’s innocent and has so much left of her life to offer society. I want her home before I die and will continue to file petitions to get the executive council of New Hampshire to free Pamela. This is my book. This is our story. This is what I live for.”