DEER LODGE, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge today scheduled a Jan. 31 execution date for the only known Canadian on death row in the United States.
District Judge John Larson’s order for Ronald Allen Smith’s execution came two days after a Helena judge issued an order staying the execution.
Smith, 53, of Red Deer, Alberta, is seeking a court ruling on whether the state’s method of carrying out the death penalty is unconstitutional.
Larson said the Helena judge’s ruling on Monday “attempts, in my view, to render what I have just done annulled.”
The Missoulian newspaper reported that Larson will ask the state Supreme Court to look at the apparently conflicting orders and clear up the issue before January.
Smith was convicted in 1983 of fatally shooting Harvey Mad Man, 24, and Thomas Running Rabbit. At the time of the 1982 deaths, Smith was 25 and had crossed the Canadian border on foot the previous day with two friends and a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle.
Prosecutors alleged that he robbed the Browning cousins and shot them execution-style in the woods near East Glacier.
Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of deliberate homicide, as well as two counts of aggravated kidnapping. In February 1983, he was offered a plea agreement that called for a 110-year prison sentence, but he rejected that in favor of a death sentence.
Smith changed his mind in 1984 and has been fighting his death sentence ever since, arguing he had ineffective counsel.
His appeal took the case to the Montana Supreme Court in 1986, which upheld the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court declined last month to hear the case.