Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Daughter of Canadian on Death Row Satisfied Governor's Decision Will Be Fair

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Daughter of Canadian on Death Row Satisfied Governor's Decision Will Be Fair

Article excerpt

Small glimmer of hope for Smith's daughter

--

DRUMHELLER, Alta. - The daughter of Ronald Smith, one of two Canadians on death row in the United States, sees a small glimmer of hope that her father's life will be spared after her family met with Montana's governor earlier this month.

"I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but at least I know whatever decision comes down it's going to be a fair one. It's going to be from (the governor's) heart," said a tearful Carmen Blackburn in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"It's not going to be just something off the cuff."

Blackburn and her family had a one-hour audience with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer at his office in Helena in which they pleaded for Smith's life. Smith had a clemency hearing earlier this year and the panel recommended it be denied. The final decision, however, rests with the governor. Schweitzer's term in office runs out early next year.

Smith and his friend Rodney Munro, both Canadians, were hitchhiking in Montana in 1982 when they caught a ride with Harvey Madman Jr. and Thomas Running Rabbit, both members of the Blackfeet Nation in Montana. Drunk and high on drugs, the Canadian men marched Madman and Running Rabbit into the woods and shot and stabbed them to death.

Smith, originally from Red Deer, Alta., rejected a plea deal and asked for the death penalty before later changing his mind. Munro pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping and was returned to Canada and released from jail in 1998.

Blackburn says Schweitzer told Smith's family that he was undecided, but didn't think it was fair for Smith to be executed when Munro was paroled and free to live his life in Canada. He also indicated Smith may be a different man.

"He was jotting notes while we were talking. I couldn't read all of them -- there was just the one I could read very well and that was the word fair," said Blackburn.

"You could see that word fair -- his eyes kept going back to it and going back to it and he's really struggling with this. He is a man who is going to do what he wants, what he feels is right. I don't think anyone could force him one way or another. …

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