MANCHESTER, N.H. (Reuters) - Prison authorities in New Hampshire on Thursday granted parole to William Flynn, who was a teenager when he was found guilty of being the trigger man in a 1990 murder that generated national attention.
Flynn, 41, was 16 when he was charged with shooting to death Gregg Smart, whose wife, Pamela Smart, was his lover and an employee of the New Hampshire high school he attended. He was sentenced in 1992 to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
Gregg Smart's family packed Thursday's parole hearing at the New Hampshire State Prison. Flynn spoke via telephone from a prison in Maine, where he has served most of his sentence.
The decision to release Flynn reflected an exemplary prison record that saw him earn a college degree, become a licensed electrician and organize Christmas toy donations, said Donna Sytek, chairman of the New Hampshire Adult Parole Board.
"I have to say, I have not seen such remarkable accomplishments," Sytek said.
Flynn expressed remorse.
"I know nothing I say today will be of comfort to the Smart family, but I sincerely hope that they will never have to be publicly reminded of their grief again," he said. "I'm truly sorry for the pain I caused them."
Relatives of Smart, who was 24 when he was killed, said Flynn was not worthy of parole.
"Mr. Flynn, you made a deal with the devil that day, and a year later you made a deal with the state of New Hampshire that included a 28-year to life sentence," said Val Fryatt, Smart's cousin. "As remorseful as you are, I believe in my heart of hearts that you should at the very least serve your minimum sentence of 28 years."
Flynn is slated to be released on June 4, pending approval of his post-prison accommodations. He is expected to live in Maine, where his wife of eight years lives.
The Pamela Smart case was one of the first in the United States to receive television coverage from nearly beginning to end.
She is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. She has maintained her innocence and says Flynn was responsible for the murder.
Editing by Scott Malone; Editing by Mohammad Zargham