Montana top court upholds stay of execution for Canadian on death row

Calgary — The Globe and Mail

Ronald Smith, the only Canadian on death row in the United States, talks about spending the last 25 years trying to avoid the death penalty for two 1982 murders, at the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge, Montana, Monday, June 30, 2008. (Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press)

Montana's top court has upheld a stay of execution for the only Canadian on death row in the United States.

The Montana Supreme Court was dealing with two conflicting court orders in the case of Ronald Smith, a 53-year-old originally from Red Deer, Alta.

Earlier this month, Judge John Larson set an execution date for Jan. 31, but that came just two days after Judge Jeffrey Sherlock had issued a stay in the case.

Story continues below ad

Justice Sherlock is presiding over a civil suit that was filed on Mr. Smith's behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that Montana's method of lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel.

The high court ended up siding with Justice Sherlock's ruling, meaning Mr. Smith will not face death at the end of next month.

Mr. Smith was convicted of shooting and killing two cousins, Harvey Madman Jr. and Thomas Running Rabbit, while high on drugs and alcohol near East Glacier, Mont., in 1982.