MT: Smith - Prosecutor says State Parole Board made right
Wed May 23, 2012 14:51
Prosecutor says State Parole Board made right decision in Smith clemency case Story Discussion
By MIIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau | Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan, whose office prosecuted convicted killer and death-row inmate Ronald Smith nearly 30 years ago, said Tuesday the state parole board made the right decision in recommending no clemency for Smith.
“On behalf of the (victims’) families, we clearly believe it’s the correct ruling,” he said. “But it is bittersweet, in that it’s been 30 years for the families and the Blackfeet Nation to get to this point in the process.”
The Board of Pardons and Parole recommended Monday that Gov. Brian Schweitzer reject Smith’s request for clemency, to commute his sentence to life in prison without parole.
Schweitzer will make the final decision on whether to grant clemency, and has said he’ll review the recommendation and the case before deciding.
Smith, 54, of Red Deer, was sentenced to death for the August 1982 execution-style murders of Thomas Running Rabbit and Harvey Mad Man Jr., who were Blackfeet Indians from Browning.
Running Rabbit and Mad Man met Smith and two other Canadians in an East Glacier Park bar, later saw them hitchhiking along U.S. Highway 2 and gave them a ride. Smith then made the two Browning cousins stop the car, marched them into the woods and shot them.
Smith has exhausted all his criminal appeals, although he is a plaintiff in a pending civil lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Montana’s lethal-injection execution process.
Corrigan was not the Flathead County attorney at the time of Smith’s prosecution, but has worked with the victims’ families in opposing clemency. He said he spoke Tuesday with some relatives of Mad Man and Running Rabbit, and that they were grateful for the board’s recommendation.
“I don’t want to say there was jubilation, but they certainly believed it was the right decision,” Corrigan said. “When you think about the process, these people have got to be very tired, with how this has impacted their lives.”
Corrigan also disagreed with comments by Smith’s defense attorney, Greg Jackson, who said Monday the board apparently ignored the evidence that Smith had turned his life around in prison, becoming a model inmate and an integral part of his family in Canada.
“We don’t dispute what he’s done (in prison),” Corrigan said of Smith. “But it’s my position that the nature of the crime and the impact on these families should very much be a consideration of the board. …”
“I know for a fact that (the board members) were very aware of their responsibility and very concerned to reach the right decision,” he said. “This was not a knee-jerk reaction on their part.”
Smith and his lawyers presented testimony at a May 2 hearing before the board from Smith’s family members and prison personnel that had worked with him over the years. They also noted that Smith’s primary accomplice in the kidnapping and shooting, Rodney Munro, ended up with a lesser sentence and has since been released from prison
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MT: Smith - Prosecutor says State Parole Board made right Petra.,Wed May 23 14:51
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