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Death row Canadian to plead for clemency 0

Dave Dormer, Calgary Sun
Ronald Smith. (QMI Agency File Photo)

Ronald Smith. (QMI Agency File Photo)

CALGARY -- Condemned murderer Ronald Smith will again plead for clemency from a Montana parole board Wednesday in his ongoing bid to avoid the death penalty.

A three-member hearing panel will consider Smith's application for executive clemency in a Deerlodge, Mont., courtroom.

Smith, originally from Red Deer, Alta., has been on death row in Montana for nearly 30 years after being convicted of intentional homicide and aggravated kidnapping in the Aug. 4, 1982, drug and alcohol-fuelled deaths of two men on a Montana roadside.

Smith and another man, Rodney Munro, were hitchhiking through Montana when they were offered a ride by Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit while playing pool.

Smith and Munro later shot and killed the pair in an attempt to steal their car.

Smith initially demanded the death penalty after being convicted, but had a change of heart after kicking his addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Munro was sentenced to life in prison after accepting a plea deal and was released on parole more than 10 years ago.

Smith's lawyers expressed disappointment in early April when a four-page report by a parole board employee, which recommended rejecting his appeal, was accidently sent to them.

The April 2 report stated "there doesn't appear to be any compelling reasons that are persuading enough to believe that a commutation is merited," and recommended his request be denied.

Smith's lawyer, Don Vernay, said at the time the report showed bias against his client.

Smith was scheduled to be executed Jan. 31, 2011, but the Montana Supreme Court granted an indefinite reprieve, pending the outcome of a legal challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union against Montana's lethal injection protocol.

If Smith's request for clemency is granted, a decision on whether to commute his sentence to life in prison with no chance of parole would be in the hands of retiring Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

dave.dormer@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNDaveDormer


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