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Trial Junkies Say True Story Beats the Soaps

March 21, 1991

EXETER, N.H. (AP) _ There’s a daytime drama on TV around here as steamy as any soap opera - the trial of a young high school teacher accused of seducing a student and getting him to do her dirty work by murdering her husband.

Broadcast daily on WMUR in Manchester, the trial of Pamela Smart has been a captivating melodrama of intrigue, betrayal and homicide. Department store TV sets stay tuned, along with thousands in homes across New England.

The courtroom has been packed with people like 70-year-old Esther Glennon, who has traveled 100 miles a day to watch the drama unfold. Some spectators have showed up as early as 1 a.m. to wait for one of the gallery’s 30 seats.

″I only meant to come one day, but I became so interested I had to come back,″ said Glennon, of Concord. ″It’s like a real-life soap opera.″

Smart, 23, is accused of conspiring with her lover, 17-year-old William Flynn, and his two best friends to kill her insurance-salesman husband, Gregory. He was shot to death in their condominium in Derry last May.

The case went to the jury Wednesday after 11 days of testimony.

Flynn, who has pleaded guilty in the slaying, testified he lost his virginity to Smart when he was 15, after they watched and then acted out parts of the steamy movie ″9 1/2 Weeks.″ Video rental stores report heavy demand for copies of the Mickey Rourke-Kim Basinger film in the wake of that testimony.

Later, Flynn testified, Smart told him to kill her husband because she wanted out of the marriage but feared losing her dog, furniture and condo in a divorce.

Smart had met the teen-agers at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, where she instructed them in media projects. The trial has been of special interest at schools, where students have been allowed to watch the proceedings during breaks.

The tube wasn’t enough for Timberlane High School senior Mike Tilas, though. He wanted to watch in person, calling the courtroom spectacle ″the most intriguing thing I have ever seen in my entire life.″

″My parents let me come,″ Tilas said. ″My parents told me this is a once-in-a-lifetime-time thing.″

The Boston Herald this week invited readers to ″be the judge″ by calling in their verdicts on a 900-number. Of those who responded, 543 said Smart was guilty and 101 said she was innocent.

Smart’s mother, Linda Wojas, said the public and press unfairly tried and convicted her daughter months ago.

The victim’s parents, William and Judith Smart, said their son’s death has become secondary to interest in the teacher’s love affair with a teen-ager.

″No one’s cried but our family for months and months,″ Mrs. Smart said.

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