Death Watch

By MJ Preston
January 25, 2011
Ronald Allen Smith at time of his arrest in 1982
Ronald Allen Smith at time of his arrest in 1982 -Public Domain
On Aug. 4, 1982 aboriginal Cousins Harvey Mad Man, 23, and Thomas Running Rabbit, 20, were marched through the woods of Montana at gunpoint. Their mistake was offering Ronald Allen Smith, Rodney Munro and Andre Fontaine a ride and for this they would pay with their lives.

Armed with a shotgun Smith knew exactly what he intended to do. His accomplices Munro and Fontaine brandished knifes as they led their young victims on the final steps of their very young lives.

In the wooded area Smith raised the gun and shot Mad Man in the back of the head as Munro began stabbing Running Rabbit. Eventually Smith would finish him off with a gunshot to the temple. The reason for the ambush and killing was that the trio wanted to steal the truck the young men had picked them up in.

Three days later in a botched robbery attempt the trio would be picked up and charged with the murders. Unlike his partners, Smith would refuse a plea deal that would allow him to serve out his sentence in Canada and he would ask for a death sentence. He mused that he wanted to know how it would feel to kill someone and that he would likely kill again. Smith would get his wish and was sentenced to death, while his accomplices would be sent to Canada to serve their sentences.

As time went on Smith changed his mind about wanting to die and began challenging the sentence which has lead to over a quarter century of legal wrangling involving US and Canadian officials.

Canada has always has had a policy of asking for clemency for Canadians on death row. In 2007 the Conservative Government announced it would not seek clemency in the case of Smith in a policy shift which would result in a lawsuit by Smith against the Canadian Government.

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled that the Government of Canada had an obligation to seek clemency for Smith and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon stated that the government would comply with the court ruling. However, it appeared that Smith’s time had run out and he was scheduled to die by lethal injection on January 31, 2011.

Now, in a last minute ruling the Montana Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution until two conflicting court rulings can be put to rest. Lawyers for Ronald Allen Smith launched a lawsuit stating that Lethal Injection is cruel and unusual punishment.

Until arguments are made and ruled upon Smith lives to fight another day, while the families of Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit watch and wait.


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Comments (11)
B00Mer's Avatar
B00Mer    Jan 27th, 2011
I thought this was was executed already..???

Either way, fry the bastard. Let him feel what it's like to die.
Omicron's Avatar
Omicron    Jan 28th, 2011
Did you know that the phrase "RCMP Always Get Their Man" was actually coined by a newspaper in Fort Benton Montana talking about RCMP being the detail of dealing with the whiskey trade of Fort Benton bad-whiskey brewers shipping their tar up to Blackfoot Indians up there, and that Fort Benton was happy to see it cut off?
Omicron's Avatar
Omicron    Jan 28th, 2011
Just out of curiosity, why is it that if I had someone like that with my Belgian-22 I'd just shoot him? Then bury him in order to prevent disease.

My mom says it's because I have an ancestral memory of what it was like to be a settler.

Nobody remembers how hard it was. Nobody remembers how free it was.
CDNBear's Avatar
CDNBear    Jan 29th, 2011
I'm going to admit being completely bias here, but I fully believe that Canada should butt out of other countries legal matters. Especially in this case.

All three should have been put down.

Quote: Originally Posted by Omicron --

Did you know that the phrase "RCMP Always Get Their Man" was actually coined by a newspaper in Fort Benton Montana talking about RCMP being the detail of dealing with the whiskey trade of Fort Benton bad-whiskey brewers shipping their tar up to Blackfoot Indians up there, and that Fort Benton was happy to see it cut off?

Quote: Originally Posted by Omicron --

Just out of curiosity, why is it that if I had someone like that with my Belgian-22 I'd just shoot him? Then bury him in order to prevent disease.

My mom says it's because I have an ancestral memory of what it was like to be a settler.

Nobody remembers how hard it was. Nobody remembers how free it was.

Are you back to drinking heavily before you post?
Elder's Avatar
Elder    May 16th, 2011
Condolences to the families of Harvery Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit. This must be continuous torture for them. I do not understand the lack of justice in our criminal justice system. It beffudles me to no end. The system wastes the time and efforts of our hard-working police and RCMP who are forced to watch the criminals they have arrested to walk out the door free time and again. It is insane and a signal for criminals across our world to infiltrate Canada so they can do harm unto others without consequences. Some of these very evil men and women need to pay with their lives by execution or a real life term. Unfortunately they are free far too soon to continue preying upon Canadians. The short jail times provide them with new criminal connections and associations, new found arrogance and the realization that our justice system is a joke which allows the criminals to benefit.
damngrumpy's Avatar
damngrumpy    May 16th, 2011
Thumbs Up! Rate this post positively.
+1
I have some differing views here although I think the execution should go ahead.
First we should in fact intervene in some cases as America has the same right
to do so in our system. Both countries have made allowances for each other.
As for the hard working RCMP, there are many who do not share that view at all.
The hard working RCMP kicked a helpless man in the face here in Kelowna not
to long ago. The hard working RCMP killed a man for no reason the the Vancouver
Airport and then lied through their teeth to escape prosecution. In Northern BC
a man was shot in the back of the head in self defence in a police cell, not bloody
likely, and the accounts go on. In BC anyway many British Columbians would like
to see a different policing system I will say I believe the majority of RCMP try to do
their duty, but the leadership of the force is seriously lacking, the training needs to
be shaken up, and the rules for who gets to be a Mountie needs to be overhauled.

We have a man here who wanted to die for his crime and we should not postpone
his journey another day, but I do agree with the appeal process for executing one
person who might be not guilty is worth it. In this case however, we know the three
were guilty, two were sent back to Canada, to serve their sentence and the third has
a passport for hell and we should wish him Gods speed on that particular journey.
Ariadne's Avatar
Ariadne    May 16th, 2011
It seems to me that Canadian law should apply equally to all Canadians. Canadian Brad Cooper was recently tried and found guilty of first degree murder of his Canadian wife in North Carolina. If the death penalty was on the table (which it wasn't, most likely due to surviving family request), then I think Canada should intervene. In fact, I think that post-appeal, he should have the right to complete his sentence in Canada so that he at the very least has access to his family. That said, I see the case of Ronald Smith in a completely different context. He was given choices after his arrest and conviction. He made choices, and since then everyone has operated under the assumption that choices were offered, choices were made, decisions were made and everyone would stand by their decision. He had excellent representation during his legal trials and still he made the choices he made. I'm opposed to the death penalty, but I'm in favour of stopping the discussion at some point in the 29 year process.
damngrumpy's Avatar
damngrumpy    May 16th, 2011
He should not get to serve his sentence here because he willing asked to remain
in the prison system and to be executed therefore Canada's responsibility ended
as far as he is concerned. I do agree that both countries should be able to discuss
such matters as they do on many related cases though.
petros's Avatar
petros    May 16th, 2011
Has he been rehabilitated?
Ariadne's Avatar
Ariadne    May 16th, 2011
Hard to say. Initialy he said that he would continue to murder if released.