The daughter of Ronald Smith, a Canadian on death row in the United States, says she has at least a glimmer of hope that Montana’s governor will spare her father’s life.
Smith’s family members met with Governor Brian Schweitzer a couple of weeks ago.
Carmen Blackburn says she considers Schweitzer to be a kind and fair man, who is truly struggling with the difficult decision of whether to grant her father clemency.
Ronald Smith has been on death row for 30 years for murdering two young men from the Blackfeet Nation in 1982.
The governor has said he didn’t think it was fair for Smith to be executed while his accomplice was returned to Canada and paroled in 1998.
Meantime, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, who now lives in Saskatchewan, says he doesn’t think Smith should be granted clemency.
Lyle Frank currently works as a community therapist for a First Nation in Saskatchewan — but he grew up in Browning, Montana.
He says he knew both victims and graduated high school with Harvey Mad Man in 1977.
Frank says the killings didn’t just affect the families:
“He didn’t just devastate these two families — the Running Rabbits and the Mad Mans — he devastated the entire nation.”
Frank feels that if the governor decides to pardon the convicted killer, it will send a dangerous message to the entire country:
“To not carry out this sentence would be a travesty, and I think he would be giving a message to the entire country that Native lives are not equal to non-Native lives.”
Frank says Mad Man was a nice, quiet guy who was always willing to help people out.
He adds the entire nation is still deeply affected by the killings and he doesn’t want the governor to lose sight of what happened.
(With files from The Canadian Press)