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  1. #31
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    My pro-death penalty cohorts will post this article and proceed to pick it apart. It was originally posted on NPR. Read if you fancy.

    Canadian Asked For Death, But Now Wants Life


    http://app1.kuhf.org/articles/npr133...ants-Life.html
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    Canadian's high-profile quest for clemency in 1982 killings angers Blackfeet family



    On a summer day in 1982, Ronald Allen Smith, a 24-year-old Canadian man hitchhiking his way across Montana, marched two young Blackfeet men, Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit, into the woods near Marias Pass and shot them both in the head.

    Smith and his two accomplices then stole the dead men's car and left their bodies behind, like garbage on the side of the highway.

    "He shot Thomas first," Carol Arrow Top said, though it's unclear how the young men's aunt could know such things. "Did Harvey beg for his life? 'Don't kill me. Please don't kill me.' We don't know that. We don't know those last seconds, what happened to those boys."

    In a prison cell in Deer Lodge, Ronald Smith waits for answers of his own. Smith had said he is a changed man — that time and renewed connections with his family have softened him. In six weeks, Smith will appear before the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole. For Smith, it could be his last chance to request leniency from Gov. Brian Schweitzer — the only person who has the authority to halt his execution since Smith has exhausted his appeals.

    During a change of plea hearing in 1983, Smith took sole responsibility for the murders of Mad Man and Running Rabbit. He rejected a plea bargain agreement state prosecutors had offered him, asking instead for the death penalty. One month later, the court granted Smith's request. He was sentenced to hang at the state penitentiary in Deer Lodge, with his execution set for May 9, 1983.

    But Smith changed his mind. Three weeks after his sentencing hearing, Smith asked the court to reconsider, stating his request for the death penalty was prompted by depression and mental instability caused by the conditions of his incarceration.

    Smith has appealed his sentence seven times since 1983, variously arguing that Montana's method of execution is unconstitutional, that he received ineffective legal council and that a variety of mitigating circumstances warrant the commutation of his sentence.

    And with each new legal challenge, Smith's name and image are broadcast in both the United States and Canada. As the only Canadian citizen on death row in the United States, Smith's case has drawn widespread attention from groups opposed to the death penalty. The Canadian government has repeatedly intervened in the case, pressuring Montana's governor to grant Smith clemency. Smith has now outlived most immediate family members of Mad Man and Running Rabbit.

    "Harvey's mother, Darlene Home Gun, died almost one year to the day after the funeral," said Gabe Grant, Home Gun's brother and an uncle to both murder victims. "Alcohol contributed to her death, but she drank out of sorrow and all the heartbreaks that came from having known what happened to her son. I believe that she succumbed to a broken heart. The entire immediate family of Thomas Running Rabbit is gone. Thomas Running Rabbit Senior passed away a few years ago, and Thomas' mother, Katrina, and his two brothers are all deceased. The traumatic effects of these boys' murders on individual families cannot be overstated."

    Mad Man's and Running Rabbit's families also expressed a deepening frustration with the slow pace of the criminal justice system, and with what they view as biased news coverage that has forgotten the true victims.

    "He gets a big write up — he gets his picture taken," Allen Talks About said of Smith. Talks About is the uncle of Mad Man and Running Rabbit, and he was the first person to locate their bodies. "You never hear anything from us. The press never asks us anything. It's all about him."

    "You can see prejudice in the media," said the victims' cousin, Debbie White Grass. "If it was a Native American man who did the crime, there'd be nothing to talk about — nothing. It doesn't even have to be spelled out. You can read between the lines what's happening."

    Mad Man and Running Rabbit were two young men with promising futures ahead of them, according to their family members. They were cousins from a close-knit family and, as children, they played together often, riding horses, fishing in Cut Bank Creek and going hunting with their uncles.

    "They were friends, they were cousins, they were brothers," Arrow Top said. "Harvey was a kind kid. He was a gentle person. He wanted knowledge. He asked a lot of questions."

    Running Rabbit, the younger of the two, was more outgoing than Mad Man. Arrow Top described Running Rabbit as a "happy-go-lucky" kid who excelled at baseball, and who took time to teach his younger cousins the finer points of the game.

    By 1982, both young men had graduated from high school and were pursuing college degrees at schools in Missoula and Billings. Running Rabbit, 20, was a statewide officer in a Catholic youth organization and had already started a family. His daughter, Jessica, was just a toddler. Running Rabbit's second child, Thomas Jr., was born in June 1982. Mad Man, 23, didn't have any children.

    On Aug. 4, the two men borrowed their grandmother's 1977 Ford LTD and drove out of Browning. Though the rest of their family wasn't sure where the two men were headed, they guessed that Mad Man and Running Rabbit might be going to Great Falls to check out the Montana State Fair.

    According to a court affidavit, Ronald Smith, 24, Rodney (James) Munro, 21, and Andre Fontaine, 19, crossed the Canadian border into Montana earlier that same day. The three men planned to hitchhike to California, leaving behind troubled pasts in Red Deer, Alberta.

    Smith had amassed a lengthy criminal record. His application for executive clemency states that prior to the summer of 1982, Smith was convicted of 10 crimes in Canada, mostly consisting of misdemeanor theft and drug offenses. The clemency application also states that Smith had taken the hallucinogenic drug LSD before and after crossing into the United States. He also smuggled a sawed-off .22 caliber rifle across the border.

    According to Judge Ted O. Lympus, security along the border was far more lax 30 years ago than today. Lympus currently presides on the bench of the Montana 9th Judicial District Court in Kalispell, but in 1982 he was the Flathead County attorney — and the man who led the prosecution of Smith.

    "Back in those days, the border was pretty much open," Lympus said. "They (Smith, Munro and Fontaine) were on foot, so they probably just walked across."

    By early afternoon, the three Canadians made it to East Glacier Park. There, they met Mad Man and Running Rabbit at the Park Bar. The group of young men drank beer and played a few games of pool. Smith, Munro and Fontaine later left the bar and started hitchhiking west on U.S. Highway 2. About 15 minutes later, Running Rabbit and Mad Man left the Park Bar and drove in the same direction, possibly intending to head to another bar in Flathead County.

    "They saw those three Canadians — 'there's our friends we met at the bar, let's give them a ride," Grant said.

    Mad Man and Running Rabbit picked up Smith, Munro and Fontaine. For unknown reasons, Mad Man and Running Rabbit stopped their car a couple of miles past the Continental Divide and got out of the vehicle. According to Munro's testimony at trial, the three hitchhikers discussed killing the two men and stealing their car while the two Blackfeet men were outside the car. When Running Rabbit and Mad Man returned, Smith pulled out his rifle and put it to the back of Mad Man's head. Smith and Munro then forced the two men out of the vehicle, and marched them about 40 yards into the woods, near mile marker 195 of U.S. Highway 2.

    "I intended to kill them on my own before we took them into the woods," Smith later testified.

    "He shot one of the them in the head in front of the other one," Lympus said. "Then he shot the other one in the temple. Munro was right there too, but it was Smith who did the shooting. Here Thomas and Harvey were helping these guys — they were giving them a ride. Yet what did they get in return? Cold-blooded execution."

    After Smith shot Mad Man and Running Rabbit, he, Munro and Fontaine headed southwest in the stolen car. Just outside Elmo, on the Flathead Indian Reservation, the men came upon an abandoned Mazda with Washington state license plates. They stole the car's plates and put them on the LTD, then continued toward California.

    Two days later, after Running Rabbit and Mad Man still had not returned home, the young men's family started getting worried.

    "It wasn't like them to disappear and not tell us where they were," Grant said. "At the time, we thought it was an accident. We thought those boys might have went over a bank on the side of the road and we couldn't find them."

    According to a court affidavit, on Aug. 6 the men's grandmother, Cecile Grant, reported to the Bureau of Indian Affairs Police that they were missing. The initial search for Running Rabbit and Mad Man was short lived. Just a few days later, investigators from California contacted the Glacier County Sheriff's Office to report that they had impounded Cecile Grant's car.

    On the same day Running Rabbit and Mad Man were reported missing by their grandmother, Munro and Fontaine were arrested in Eureka, Calif., after a botched armed robbery attempt. The details of the crime are not included in available court documents, but what is known is that the three Canadians held up a motel in Eureka using the same sawed-off rifle Smith used to execute Mad Man and Running Rabbit. The three men attempted to flee in the LTD, but local police stopped them near the Eureka city limits. Munroe and Fontaine were arrested, but Smith managed to escape capture, taking the murder weapon with him.

    California investigators soon discovered that the LTD had stolen license plates. They traced the car's vehicle identification number back to its registered owner in Montana. Cecile Grant's car provided the first connection between Smith, Munro and Fontaine and the missing Blackfeet men.

    The sawed-off .22 was never recovered.

    Almost immediately, Fontaine began to cooperate with investigators. The 19-year-old from Quebec had remained in the car while Smith and Munro forced Running Rabbit and Mad Man into the woods, and did not directly participate in their murders. While in custody in California, Fontaine identified Smith as the third suspect in the Eureka robbery.

    Smith's movements after evading capture in California are unclear. There is some evidence that he may have tried to go back to Canada but turned back before attempting to cross the border. Smith was eventually apprehended in Rock Springs, Wyo., where he may have been trying to make contact with a family member.

    Despite the suspects being in police custody and Fontaine's cooperation in the investigation, it took several weeks before search parties recovered the bodies of Mad Man and Running Rabbit.

    "Fontaine was talking, but he wasn't from Montana and wasn't familiar with the area," Lympus said.

    "He said their bodies were just a little ways out of East Glacier and on a right-hand curve," Grant said. "That was all the information we had."

    Led by Running Rabbit's father, Thomas Sr., the family and the Blackfeet Tribe began a painstaking search of the Marias Pass area. After weeks with no success, the teams began expanding their search radius.

    "We did it an organized way so we didn't miss a spot," Grant said. "We went all the way up to Paradise, Montana, and walked the entire road back toward the reservation."

    As time passed, Fontaine began revealing more details about the crime scene.

    "We started getting more direction from Fontaine," Lympus said. "He recalled the statue that was at the top of the pass — a kind of obelisk like the Washington Monument. Back in those days, it was in the middle of the road and the highway went around it. He described that, and then the search parties proceeded further west."

    Forty-four days after Mad Man and Running Rabbit were killed, their bodies were found by members of their family. It was an area search teams previously had passed by several times.

    "They were in a little indentation on the edge of a steep side hill," Grant said. "What kept everybody out of there — it was wet in there — there was a stream running through there."

    Other than immediate family members, Lympus was one of the first people to learn that the bodies of Running Rabbit and Mad Man had been found. He and Flathead County Sheriff Al Ryerson immediately left Kalispell to investigate the crime scene.

    "When we arrived there, the search team was out on the road," Lympus said. "They indicated that how they first discovered them was not by vision, but by the odor of the decomposing bodies. It was a terrible sight. They'd been there for some time. They were a mess because there had been animals — bears and such."

    Lympus said the memory of that day haunted him for years.

    "There was a big fir tree there, and they were kind of at the base of that," he said. "I can remember for years driving over Marias Pass, I would drive by that scene and see that tree. It was very recognizable."

    The night Mad Man and Running Rabbit were found, an armed guard was posted at the crime scene to protect the evidence. The next day, their bodies were removed and taken to the State Crime Lab in Missoula.

    State prosecutors now had all three suspects, the stolen vehicle they had escaped in, forensic evidence from the crime scene, the bodies of the murder victims, and testimony from one of the accomplices.

    But the prosecution of Smith, Munro and Fontaine would yield its own abundance of drama.

    The trial of murderer Ronald Smith





    The Trailhead Saloon, formerly the Park Bar in East Glacier, was the last location Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit were seen alive in 1982, before Ronald Smith executed the two near the top of Marias Pass.



    Throughout the fall and winter of 1982, the Flathead County Attorney's Office was busy preparing its case against Ronald Smith, James Munro and Andre Fontaine.

    The three Canadian men were arrested in August and charged with the murders of Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit, two young Blackfeet men who picked up the hitchhiking Canadians near Glacier National Park.

    Near the top of Marias Pass, just a couple of miles into Flathead County, Smith and Munro forced Running Rabbit and Mad Man out of their car and into the woods along the side of the highway. Smith then shot both men in the head with a sawed-off .22 caliber rifle.

    Today, Smith says he is a changed man. In a February jailhouse interview with the Associated Press, Smith said that on the day of the murders he was heavily intoxicated, adding that he doesn't have a strong recollection of the men he killed. He said he has since rehabilitated himself with an education and by reconnecting with his family.

    "I look back with disgust at what happened," Smith told the AP. "Regardless of the drugs and alcohol that were involved, it was obviously ridiculous events that took place. I now just recognize the foolishness of it all."

    Smith's statements of contrition today stand in stark contrast with his demeanor nearly 30 years ago. According to Mad Man's and Running Rabbit's family, Smith was smug and defiant during an initial appearance in a Kalispell courtroom in 1982.

    "There was about five of us who attended the initial arraignment," said Gabe Grant, the uncle of Mad Man and Running Rabbit. "Ronald Smith sat there and he did a stare down to us. He smirked and he smiled at us. He did everything but flip us off, just to show his disrespect for what he did."

    Smith, Munro and Fontaine each were charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of deliberate homicide, all felonies. All three men initially pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    Prosecutors had the stolen vehicle the three Canadians used to flee to California — which belonged to the grandmother of Mad Man and Running Rabbit — forensic evidence from the crime scene and the bodies of the two victims. Most importantly, Fontaine began cooperating with investigators shortly after his arrest.

    But state prosecutors still were concerned about getting a capital murder conviction. Fontaine didn't actually witness the murders, and Smith and Munro hadn't divulged many details of the double homicide. Investigators also were unable to recover the murder weapon. There was just enough uncertainty in the case to cast a cloud of doubt over its prosecution.

    On Feb. 2, 1983, the Flathead County Attorney's Office presented Smith and Munro with plea agreements. In exchange for a guilty plea to the two counts of deliberate homicide, the state would agree to drop the kidnapping charges and not seek the death penalty. The state would recommend Smith and Munro each receive a sentence of 110 years in prison. A change of plea hearing was scheduled for Feb. 24, 1983

    Munro was the first to take the witness stand. During questioning by Flathead County Attorney Ted O. Lympus, Munro told the court that Smith killed Running Rabbit and Mad Man on his own. Munro admitted that he, Smith and Fontaine previously discussed killing the two men and stealing their car, but told the court that he didn't actually believe they would do it.

    "I figured we were going to tie them up," Munro said, according to Tribune archives.

    He told the court that he and Smith forced Running Rabbit and Mad Man out of the car and into the woods, and that he had been armed with a knife while Smith carried a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle. Munro said he left Smith alone in the woods with the two men, and then heard shots behind him.

    A few hours after Munro's testimony, Smith took the witness stand. In a surprise move, Smith pleaded guilty to all charges and asked Judge Michael Keedy to impose the death penalty.

    "I intended to kill them on my own before we took them into the woods," Smith told the AP. "I don't think (Munro) knew that I intended to kill them."

    Smith's attorney, Gary Doran, told the court he did not approve of his client's guilty plea or his request for the death penalty. Doran also said he believed Smith was sane and did not require a psychiatric evaluation.

    When Lympus asked Smith why he wanted to be put to death, Smith said he had already spent much of his life in Canadian prisons, and that after serving time for the murders in Montana his life would be over. Smith also said he heard that Native American inmates at the Montana State Prison had a "contract" out on his life, and that if he were to go there he would either be killed or would have to kill someone else.

    Lympus said he still is chilled by Smith's lack of remorse during the court proceedings.

    "I remember asking him — you had absolute control over these two boys. You had their car; you had control over them — why did you think you had to execute them both as you did?" Lympus said. "He said, 'because I wanted to know what if felt like to kill somebody.' He was absolutely remorseless."

    "I was at the counsel table and he was sitting on the witness stand. I looked back at him and I said, 'Well, what did it feel like? How did it feel?' He looked at me straight in the face and said, 'It was no big deal.'"

    Lympus also questioned Smith's motives for requesting the death sentence.

    "In a sense, it was like that request for the death penalty was in his character," Lympus said. "He wants to be a famous person, maybe even in his mind a hero that would be executed in Montana for his behavior. In our mind he certainly deserved it, so we accepted it."

    On March 21, 1983, Smith appeared before Keedy for sentencing. The courtroom was packed and under tight security. Relatives of Smith, Mad Man and Running Rabbit were present.

    According to Tribune archives, before passing sentence, Keedy said to Smith, "You have no respect for human life, including your own. You are a very dangerous person and you represent a dangerous threat to society. By your own admission, Mr. Smith, these were atrocious, cruel and inhuman acts."

    Keedy then sentenced Smith to death four times, once for each count of deliberate homicide and aggravated kidnapping. Smith was scheduled to die by hanging at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, with his execution set for May 9, 1983.

    Munro pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated kidnapping and was sentenced to 60 years in prison. Fontaine, who hadn't participated in the kidnapping and murder of Mad Man and Running Rabbit, received a 5-year sentence for associated crimes . Both Munro and Fontaine were extradited to Canada. According to Lympus, Munro was paroled several years ago. Neither Lympus, nor the families of Mad Man and Running Rabbit, know where Munro or Fontaine are today.

    Three weeks after his sentencing hearing, Smith changed his mind about wanting the death penalty.

    He asked the court to reconsider, stating his request for the death penalty was prompted by depression and mental instability caused by the conditions of his incarceration.

    Smith has appealed his sentence seven times since 1983, variously arguing that Montana's method of execution is unconstitutional, that he received ineffective legal council and that a variety of mitigating circumstances warrant the commutation of his sentence.

    As the final opportunities to obtain clemency approached, Smith and his family in Canada have given interviews pleading for his life.

    "I kind of hope (the victim's families) would recognize I am not the same person," Smith told the AP in February. "Obviously, I committed those crimes. I am not trying to say I didn't. But I am not the same person anymore."

    "I want people to know that he is not that monster — that piece of scum that people call him," Smith's sister Sandy told a Canadian newspaper. "He has taken responsibility. He has to live with what he has done every single day, and that is part of his punishment."

    The Running Rabbit and Mad Man families are unmoved by Smith's claims of redemption.

    "Ronald Smith made a choice — he made a decision," said Jessica Crawford, Running Rabbit's daughter. "Whether it was because of drugs or alcohol, he still made a decision. And with that decision, my dad didn't get to see my wedding. He didn't get to see his grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

    "I feel jealousy toward Smith's daughter because she still gets to make a bond with her dad, but I don't," Crawford added. "That was just because of a choice Smith made on wanting to see what it felt like to kill somebody, and that's not fair."

    Lympus shares the family's perspective, and points out that Smith was sentenced based on his actions in 1982, not on whatever personal growth he may have achieved over the next 30 years.

    "What's relevant is what took place then and what he did then," Lympus said. "He still deserves the consequences of his behavior. I've read the stuff about Smith's family and all the hell they've gone through. Well, he brought that upon them. What about the Running Rabbit and the Mad Man families. It was a final consequence for them, and his should be likewise."

    Smith will appear before the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole on May 2 in Deer Lodge. He is seeking its recommendation to the governor to have his death sentence commuted to a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

    "We are, have always been, and will always be adamant that we want to maintain the sentence Smith asked for," Grant said. "That's whey we are asking the Montana Parole Board to make a recommendation to the governor to uphold Smith's death penalty sentence, and we're asking the governor to carry through with that death penalty."

    http://www.greatfallstribune.com/art...yssey=nav|head
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  3. #33
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    "I intended to kill them on my own before we took them into the woods," Smith told the AP. "I don't think (Munro) knew that I intended to kill them."

    I don't understand why this case takes so long. Since he stated he's not afraid to die why not response his wishes. That two young kids didn't have chance to live and I couldn't imagine when they knew they're going to die...how would they feel..

  4. #34
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    Leaked document suggests Canadian on death row faces uphill battle for clemency

    The only Canadian on death row in the United States has a clemency hearing in less than a month, but a leaked document obtained by The Canadian Press suggests he may have already lost his bid before the arguments begin.

    The four-page document written by a Montana Board of Pardons and Paroles staff member reviews the case and recommends against granting Ron Smith's request that his life be spared.

    "Smith does not meet any of the commutation criteria as outlined in the BOPP administrative rules," the document reads. "Smith hasn't demonstrated an extended period of exemplary performance and there doesn't appear to be any extraordinary mitigating or extenuating circumstances that would constitute the exceptional remedy such as commutation.

    "It is recommended that the request for a commutation of sentence be denied."

    The document was mailed to Smith's lawyers by mistake and they are infuriated.

    "They're playing with a stacked deck but what are you going to do?" said Don Vernay, who works out of Albuquerque, N.M., and is co-counsel for Smith.

    "You're going in there and you know you've got an uphill battle but, God almighty, when you know they want to kill your client before you can get in the door — that really stinks."

    The board is holding a two-day clemency hearing for the 54-year-old Smith starting May 2 in Deer Lodge, Mont. The hearing is just a few kilometres from where the man from Red Deer, Alta., has spent the last 30 years in prison for the 1982 murders of Thomas Running Rabbit and Harvey Mad Man.

    The final decision on whether Smith lives or dies will fall to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer. The board is to make a recommendation after the hearing.

    The document sent to Smith's lawyers does not represent the board's final decision, said executive director Fern Osler. She said it was written by a staff member to provide information to the three-member board. It was sent to Smith's team in error, she said.

    "It is just a staff recommendation that we do in every executive clemency hearing and in every parole board hearing. The staff reviews the file and makes a recommendation. That's just a review of the file," said Osler.

    She said the decision is not predetermined and the testimony at the hearing in early May will be considered in the board's final decision.

    "The staff does the investigation on every clemency and makes a recommendation to the board and then the board examines all the information, including the testimony from everybody and then makes their own decision."

    Vernay and co-counsel Greg Jackson argue that although Smith was guilty of a terrible crime he has made a genuine effort to "live a life that exhibits remorse, rehabilitation, a changed heart and mind and a potential for good."

    "We request that you consider and grant this application and commute Mr. Smith's sentence from death to life without parole," the lawyers wrote in the application for clemency.

    The evaluation by the parole board staff member says that while Smith's behaviour has not been abysmal, it has not been stellar either, pointing to three minor infractions in his 30 years in prison.

    It also quotes a psychological assessment that describes Smith in unflattering terms.

    "Smith is not an individual with a strong desire to make amends or prove himself a good citizen. To the extent that clear evidence of remorse and unmitigated responsibility-taking is the gateway to rehabilitation, the impression that the extent of this individual's rehabilitation is limited, or questionable," the report says.

    Vernay said it doesn't matter that this is just a recommendation from a staff member from the Board of Paroles and Pardons.

    "It just shows they just want to kill this guy," Varnay said. "That's all there is to it. All they care about is the crime.

    "They have no business doing that. It's ridiculous. The staff is who gives them all their information.

    "Obviously we're going to put our stuff in but what they get from their staff also goes into their equation and it is skewed like crazy. The whole thing stinks. It's been like this all along.

    Smith has been on death row since 1982. A drug-addicted drifter back then, Smith and an accomplice, both of them high on LSD and booze, marched Running Rabbit and Mad Man Jr. into the woods near East Glacier, Mont., and shot them in the head.

    They were cold-blooded killings. Smith said he shot the men just to know how it felt to take a life and because he wanted to steal their car.

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government initially refused to support Smith, saying he had been convicted in a democratic country. The decision ran counter to a long-standing policy of seeking clemency for Canadians sentenced to death in foreign lands. The Federal Court ruled the government had to back Smith.

    The government did write a letter asking the board to spare Smith's life, but its public support for the bid has been minimal.

    "The government of Canada does not sympathize with violent crime and this letter should not be construed as reflecting a judgment on Mr. Smith's conduct," the letter said. "The government of Canada ... requests that you grant clemency to Mr. Smith on humanitarian grounds."

    The letter was signed by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.


    http://www.news1130.com/news/nationa...e-for-clemency
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  5. #35
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    Canada won't help Albertan on death row

    The Harper government will not be voicing its opposition to the death penalty during a clemency hearing next month in Montana for Alberta-born Ronald Smith, the only Canadian on death row in the United States.

    The May 2 hearing will be the only public opportunity for supporters of Smith's last-ditch bid to avoid execution to try to convince the state's parole board - and ultimately Gov. Brian Schweitzer - to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment for the gunshot killings of two American men in 1982.

    And while a senior government official told Postmedia News on Thurs-day that Canada "will be sending an observer" to Smith's hearing, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has made it clear the government will not make any special submissions to the parole panel to support the clemency effort.

    "Ultimately, decisions regarding Mr. Smith's case lie with the relevant U.S. authorities," said Foreign Affairs spokesperson Aliya Mawani. "Mr. Smith pleaded guilty and was subsequently convicted of murdering two people. These were admitted crimes."

    Mawani added the government - through a letter sent to Montana authorities in December - "has com-plied" with a 2009 Federal Court of Canada decision ordering Ottawa to help Smith. The letter stressed the government "does not sympathize with violent crime" and that the country's formal request for clemency "should not be construed as reflecting a judgment on Smith's conduct."

    That Dec. 5 letter, signed by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, was denounced by opposition critics as the weakest possible expression of Canada's official rejection of capital punishment.

    Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/life/Cana...#ixzz1rv1zMOk2
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  6. #36
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    Kudos for the Harper gouvernment.
    No murder can be so cruel that there are not still useful imbeciles who do gloss over the murderer and apologize.

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    A timeline for the Ronald Smith case


    August 1982: Twenty-four-year-old Ronald Allen Smith of Red Deer, Alta., hitchhiking with two friends through Montana, carries out the gunshot murders of Blackfeet Indian cousins Thomas Running Rabbit, 20, and Harvey Mad Man, 24.

    February 1983:
    Smith pleads guilty to the killings and, having asked for the death penalty, is sentenced to be executed for the crimes.


    1983-2010:
    Through numerous appeals to state and federal courts in the U.S., culminating with the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case, Smith attempts to have his conviction quashed or his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.


    2000:
    Smith’s story is prominently featured in Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson’s book Star-Spangled Canadians, which described the death-row inmate as a “model prisoner” who felt “terrible remorse for his crime.”


    October 2007:
    After a Postmedia News report about diplomatic efforts to win clemency for Smith, the federal Conservative government abruptly halts the mission and changes the traditional Canadian policy of automatically seeking clemency for Canadians facing execution abroad.


    November 2007:
    Opposition MPs denounce the government’s new “case-by-case” policy on seeking clemency for Canadians facing the death penalty in democratic countries such as the U.S.; a team of Canadian lawyers representing Smith files a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Canada aimed at forcing the government to back Smith’s clemency bid.


    March 2009:
    The Federal Court of Canada rules the government acted in an “unlawful” manner in halting clemency efforts for Smith and orders it to resume lobbying Montana authorities for his life.


    March 2009:
    A bill to abolish the death penalty in Montana, previously passed by the state’s Senate, is defeated 10-8 by a committee of the state’s House of Representatives.


    April 2009
    : The Conservative federal government announces it will not appeal the court ruling and agrees to resume efforts to win clemency for Smith.


    March 2010:
    U.S. 9th Circuit Appeal Court rejects Smith’s bid to have his death sentence overturned. But Smith’s legal team takes hope from majority ruling that hints clemency should be granted in the case, stating: “By all accounts, Smith has reformed his life … He has developed strong relationships with various members of his family and has taken advantage of the educational opportunities offered by the prison that houses him. He has expressed deep regret for his deplorable actions.”


    October 2010:
    U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Smith’s appeal of his death sentence, making executive clemency from Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer the Canadian’s last chance to avoid execution.


    January 2012:
    Smith files a formal application for clemency with Montana’s parole board.


    May 2012:
    A clemency hearing for Smith is scheduled at Montana State Prison, after which a three-member panel will make its recommendation in the case to Schweitzer.

    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  8. #38
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    Canadian killer weeps in bid for life

    Double-murderer Ronald Smith wiped tears from his eyes Wednesday morning as his sister and daughter asked a Montana parole board to spare him by commuting his death sentence to life in prison.

    The dramatic testimony came during the first morning of a two-day clemency hearing at the Powell County courthouse for Smith, who was sentenced to death for the 1982 shooting deaths of Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit.

    Relatives of Mad Man and Running Rabbit, cousins from the Blackfeet Indian reservation, filled one side of the courtroom and watched impassively as Smith's sister, Rita Duncan, began her testimony by turning to face them and offering condolences.

    "Our hearts have broken along with yours," said Duncan, who told the gallery her brother is a changed man.

    "The Ron Smith who is sitting in front of you today is not the same man who committed those crimes 29 years ago."

    Smith, 54, is the only Canadian facing execution in the U.S., and Canada's official opposition to the death penalty has given the case an added political dimension and subjected it to scrutiny on both sides of the border.

    Smith was a drifter from Red Deer, Alta, who sneaked across the border into Montana with two friends in August 1982. Smith also came armed with a concealed .22-calibre, sawed-off rifle. The group met Mad Man, 23, and Running Rabbit, 19, at a bar in East Glacier and the five men spent the afternoon socializing and playing pool.

    Later that afternoon, the cousins encountered the Canadians hitchhiking on the highway and offered them a ride. Under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Smith forced Mad Man and Running Rabbit from the car and shot them so he could steal the vehicle.

    Following the killings, Smith rejected a plea agreement that would have sentenced him to life in prison with no parole and asked instead for the death penalty. The state set an execution date in May 1983 - but Smith changed his mind weeks after the sentencing, and the case has been tied up in various appeals since.

    As she addressed the threeperson parole board that will make a non-binding recommendation to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on whether to uphold the death sentence or commute it to life in prison with no parole, Duncan said executing Smith would have a devastating effect on his family.

    Despite being in prison for nearly 30 years, Smith's regular counsel and advice to his sisters, his daughter, nieces and grandchildren via telephone help hold the family together, said Duncan.

    "Ron's influence on our family is very strong. He is the pillar," she said.

    Smith spent much of the morning intently listening, but largely expressionless as a succession of former law enforcement professionals and correctional officials testified he has been a model prisoner and eager student during his time at Montana State Prison, just outside Deer Lodge.

    As Duncan began to read a letter Smith wrote to their mother after her death in 2011, he began to break down. Smith was handcuffed and wearing ankle shackles over his orange prison jumpsuit, but guards freed one of his hands during the hearing - he used it several times to wipe tears from his eyes as Duncan read the letter.

    "I'm sorry I never told you often enough how much you meant to me," Smith wrote.

    Smith's daughter, Carmen Blackburn, spoke to the hearing following Duncan.

    "I'm a crier," she began, choking back tears. "I'm here for my dad."

    Blackburn described Smith as a typically overprotective father, who would joke about sending her to a convent as she got older and discovered boys.

    When she got pregnant at a young age, Smith also overreacted like a typical father, Blackburn added, but never turned his back on her.

    Recalling the first time Smith held his infant grandson nearly 20 years ago, Blackburn said: "It was like somebody handed him the world."

    The hearing before the three-person parole board is scheduled for two days. The board must forward its recommendation within 30 days to Schweitzer, who will decide if Smith will be executed by lethal injection.

    Parole board member Mike McKee, who is chairing the hearing, began the day by saying the panel will not issue its recommendation at the conclusion of the hearing. McKee said the board needs time to confer and will make its recommendation public during the week of May 21.

    Among other things, the parole board will weigh evidence indicating Smith has demonstrated what Montana legislation calls an "extended period of exemplary performance" while in prison. The morning's testimony largely consisted of former correctional officers and educators detailing Smith's good behaviour and efforts at rehabilitation.

    One retired Montana State Prison correctional officer said on his last day of work, he roused Smith from his cell at 2 a.m. so he could say goodbye.

    "He gave me nothing but respect, and I gave him respect back," said Robert Jordan, who retired in 2005.

    Jordan drew quiet gasps and murmurs from the victims' families in the gallery when he said he not only supported Smith's clemency application but would allow him to one day seek freedom.

    Smith's clemency application seeks to have his death sentence commuted to life, with no parole.

    Richard Wood, a retired probation officer who works as a private investigator in death penalty cases, told the hearing he extensively researched Smith's prison records and found documented evidence of Smith's good behaviour and of instances when he worked to help other inmates.

    People who work in law enforcement are keen observers of character, said Wood, and develop what he called a "BS detector." In two interviews with Smith - one in 1995 and one just prior to the hearing - Wood said he could sense his sincerity. That, along with an unblemished record in prison, demonstrates Smith's remorse, Wood said.

    The case for Smith is scheduled to conclude Wednesday afternoon with him testifying on his own behalf.

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  9. #39
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    Last minute addition to Smith witness list fails to deliver the goods


    Lawyers for convicted double killer Ronald Smith are accusing the Canadian government of reneging on an offer to speak on his behalf at a hearing in Montana to determine whether he will get the death penalty or clemency.

    The Harper government offered only tepid support for Smith's plea for clemency with its initial response and made it clear there would be no one making a presentation at the hearing in Montana on Wednesday.

    But Smith's lawyers were excited on Monday when they received news that Marie-Eve Lamy, a consul at the Canadian Consulate General in Denver, was going to read a statement on behalf of the Harper government.

    Lamy attended Smith's clemency hearing Wednesday morning and was added as a last-minute witness for Smith's defence team.

    But in the afternoon, Lamy was gone, which prompted lawyer Don Vernay to read the copy he had of her statement into the official court record.

    "We were really somewhat surprised and she said the Government of Canada wants me to read this," he said, holding a copy of her statement.

    "Then this morning she comes up and says, 'I just heard from headquarters that they don't want me to read this.' They want her to read the original one instead. She said to me, 'This is what they want and what do you want?' I said nothing. I said, 'Thank you very much,' and let her go her way."

    The original letter, signed by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in December 2011, was short and to the point.

    "The Government of Canada does not sympathize with violent crime and this letter should not be construed as reflecting a judgement on Mr. Smith's conduct," reads the letter.

    "The Government of Canada ... requests that you grant clemency to Mr. Smith on humanitarian grounds."

    Greg Jackson, Smith's lawyer for 25 years, didn't mince words about what he called an unexplainable change once again in the Canadian government's position.

    "It's been treachery. It's almost Shakespearean in nature ...They still supported clemency but they withdrew their enthusiastic support," he said.

    "It's incomprehensible. It's been devastating to the family, it's been devastating to Ron particularly when they're going around the world now where they're enthusiastically throwing support to other Canadians facing death in other countries."

    The letter read in court said Lamy was providing testimony at the hearing on behalf of the Canadian government.

    "The Government of Canada is confident that the Montana Board of Pardons and Parole will carefully review the case before you today concerning Mr. Ronald Smith, a Canadian citizen."

    The letter, although not a glowing endorsement, was considerably more enthusiastic than the original.

    "Mr. Smith has served 29 years in prison for his crime and he has expressed remorse for his actions. The Government of Canada is seeking clemency for Mr. Smith on humanitarian grounds."

    The Department of Foreign Affairs didn't immediately respond to a request for an explanation.

    Jackson said Smith had enjoyed good support from Canada until Harper's Conservative Party government was elected. Now he doesn't know what to think.

    "I just don't understand it. I guess they claim that because this is a civilized country we have due process," he said with a shrug.

    "But regardless, a stance against the death penalty should be universal as far as the Canadian government is concerned. How do they pick and choose?," Jackson said.

    Smith, 54, has been on death row ever since he admitted to shooting Thomas Mad Man Jr. and Harvey Running Rabbit in 1982. He originally asked for the death penalty, but soon after changed his mind and has been fighting for his life ever since.

    He is asking the board to recommend his death sentence be commuted.

    The Board of Pardons and Parole intends to release its recommendation on clemency the week of May 21.

    Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer will have the final say.

    Read it on Global News: Global Edmonton | Last minute addition to Smith witness list fails to deliver the goods

    http://www.globaltvedmonton.com/last...417/story.html
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  10. #40
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    Change of Montana governor could impact Canadian's bid to avoid execution

    Just a week after Canadian killer Ronald Smith made a high-profile plea at his clemency hearing for Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer to spare him from the death penalty, Postmedia News has learned that Schweitzer will not be the state's governor if and when Smith is scheduled for execution.

    Lawyers on both sides of the case — Smith's defence team as well as the state's assistant attorney general, who's leading the push for Smith's execution — now say there's no chance the Alberta-born double-murderer could be put to death until 2013, after Schweitzer's second and final term as governor ends on Dec. 31, 2012.

    Montana's constitution imposes a two-term limit on the state's top political post, the holder of which has the exclusive authority to commute a death sentence.

    Schweitzer, first elected governor in 2004, was in office for the 2006 execution of Montana inmate David Dawson, who had not requested clemency.

    Schweitzer has remained non-committal in his public statements about whether he would consider commuting Smith's death sentence, though he has repeatedly said he is deeply moved by the torment suffered by the families of Smith's two victims — Blackfeet Indian cousins Thomas Running Rabbit and Harvey Mad Man.

    The latest surprising twist in the Smith saga could mean a whole new round of legal battles — in a case that has already spent close to 30 years in the courts — over the implications of the coming change in governors for the Canadian's bid to avoid execution.

    The lawyers in the case acknowledge that it could even result in the launch of a fresh clemency petition, under Montana's next governor, by the 54-year-old Smith.

    The situation arises because of an ongoing U.S. lawsuit — filed jointly in 2008 by Smith's defence lawyers and the Montana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union — over the protocols involved in administering Montana's lethal-injection method of capital punishment.

    Smith and the ACLU have argued that flaws or potential flaws in the three-drug regime for executing prisoners in Montana amount to "cruel and unusual punishment" and violate the condemned individual's constitutional rights.

    A trial in the lawsuit has been scheduled for Sept. 4, and both Ronald Waterman — the lawyer representing Smith in the case — and Montana's assistant attorney general, Mark Fowler, told Postmedia News this week that the inevitable appeals following that hearing will push resolution of the matter into 2013.

    In 2010, a Montana judge imposed a stay of execution in the Smith case until the lethal-injection lawsuit is concluded.

    "Right now, the state of Montana cannot seek an execution date, not only until the lethal-injection decision is made by the trial judge, but also until the appeal of that decision one way or the other is resolved," said Fowler, the state's pointman on the Smith file. "So we're looking well into next year, 2013, before the state could even entertain any possibility it could set an execution date."

    Asked it the change of governors on New Year's Day 2013 could trigger a second clemency bid by Smith, Fowler answered: "Is a death-row inmate only entitled to one clemency petition during their time on death row? I don't know the answer to that."

    He then wondered aloud if, perhaps, Schweitzer "could postpone or defer to another administration? I don't know if that is a lawful thing to do, either. I don't want to speculate on that."

    Waterman, also asked if the change of governors could make the current clemency process under Schweitzer's administration moot, replied: "Your question raises an issue which has never occurred in Montana — could a condemned inmate who had sought and been denied clemency, but whose execution had not occurred, then ask a new sitting governor to consider a renewed clemency petition? I don't know that answer to this question."

    Waterman added that "the statute is silent as to whether a person can seek clemency more than once" because of a change in governors. "If the current petition fails and assuming my efforts ultimately fail to totally stop Montana from proceeding forward with a lethal injection protocol, then we may find out the answer to this question in 2013 or 2014."

    Smith, originally from Red Deer, Alta., committed the shotgun killings of Running Rabbit and Mad Man just south of the U.S.-Canada border in August 1982.

    Smith initially requested the death penalty for his crimes, but has since waged a decades-long court fight to avoid execution.

    In 2007, in response to a Postmedia News report on a fresh bid by Canadian diplomats to help Smith win clemency from Schweitzer, Canada's recently elected Conservative government abruptly ended the diplomatic effort and announced a new "case-by-case" policy of not automatically intervening to prevent the execution of Canadians on death row in the U.S. or other democratic countries.

    But after an opposition uproar over the policy shift and the launch of a lawsuit by Smith's lawyers, the Federal Court of Canada ruled in 2009 that the Conservative government had acted "unlawfully" and ordered it to re-launch clemency efforts on Smith's behalf.

    The government agreed to do so. In December, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird sent letters to Montana's parole board and to Schweitzer seeking clemency for Smith. The letter, however, was slammed by opposition critics for its lukewarm expression of support for Smith's bid to avoid capital punishment, which was abolished in Canada in 1976.

    Last week, a three-member panel of Montana's parole board heard statements from Smith, his sister and daughter urging the state to grant clemency because of Smith's rehabilitation efforts in prison.

    The families of Running Rabbit and Mad Man made passionate pleas for Smith to be executed for robbing them of two greatly missed loved ones, men who had kindly offered the hitchhiking Smith a ride in their car before they were brutally murdered by the drunk and drugged-up Canadian.

    The parole panel is expected to make its recommendation to Schweitzer later this month or in early June. Unless he promptly grants clemency to Smith, the controversy over the Canadian's death sentence is likely to be faced by Montana's next governor, as well.

    Among both the Republican and Democratic fields of contenders to succeed Schweitzer are avowed opponents of the death penalty, meaning Smith's bid to win clemency could become a major issue in upcoming state elections.

    http://www.canada.com/news/Change+Mo...380/story.html
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