Unclear if botched Oklahoma execution will impact Ronald Smith case

The botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate buttresses the case of a Canadian man using the courts to try to avoid a lethal injection in Montana, his lawyer says.

CALGARY — The botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate buttresses the case of a Canadian man using the courts to try to avoid a lethal injection in Montana, his lawyer says.

Ron Waterman, lead lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union in Montana, began a lawsuit in 2008 on behalf of Alberta’s Ronald Smith and another death-row inmate in the state. It argues the lethal injections Montana uses are cruel and unusual punishment and violate the right to human dignity.

Montana district court Judge Jeffery Sherlock ruled in September 2012 that the injections were unconstitutional. He pointed to a lack of training for individuals who administer the drugs and a discrepancy over whether two or three drugs should be used.

Earlier this week in Oklahoma, convicted killer Clayton Lockett began writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow while undergoing that state’s new lethal injection combination.

The execution was halted, but the 38-year-old died of a heart attack about a half hour later.

“Obviously this will have an impact, but whether it will have an impact on the pending case or on future matters is yet to be determined,” said Waterman. “This situation only underscores that, as states experiment with different drugs, they do so risking exposing inmates to pain and suffering in violation of the Eighth Amendment.”

The Eighth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution includes a cruel and unusual punishments clause that restricts the severity of punishments that state and federal governments may impose upon persons who have been convicted of a criminal offence.

Waterman’s lawsuit is on hold while Sherlock considers whether the state can change the way it carries out executions without seeking the approval of politicians in the legislature. A decision on that issue expected within a matter of months.

Smith was convicted in 1983 for shooting Harvey Madman Jr. and Thomas Running Rabbit while he was high on drugs and alcohol near East Glacier, Mont.

He had been taking 30 to 40 hits of LSD and consuming between 12 and 18 beers a day at the time of the murders. He refused a plea deal that would have seen him avoid death row and spend the rest of his life in prison.

Three weeks later, he pleaded guilty. He asked for and was given a death sentence.

Smith later had a change of heart and has had a number of execution dates set and overturned.

Just Posted

Sport of axe throwing growing in Red Deer

True North Axe Throwing wants sport to be ‘Canadian version of darts’

Optimism remains for Red Deer hospital expansion

Red Deer’s incoming UCP MLAs both have been strong supporters of expansion

RDC cancels championship-winning golf program due to tight finances

Short season, small number of student golfers were also considerations

Fire investigators comb through industrial fire wreckage looking for answers

Industrial building in north Red Deer was completely gutted in Wednesday morning fire

WATCH: An ‘Eggstemely Fun Easter’ at Bower Place in Red Deer

Bower Place mall made sure Red Deer families were able to have… Continue reading

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

PARIS — A “computer glitch” may have been behind the fast-spreading fire… Continue reading

Former journalist pleads guilty to robbing two banks in Medicine Hat

MEDICINE HAT, Alta. — A former journalist arrested almost two years ago… Continue reading

Austria fears for three top climbers missing in Banff National Park

BERLIN — Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Friday his thoughts are with… Continue reading

As Vancouver fights over 4-20, Seattle’s Hempfest enjoys tolerance, some support

VANCOUVER — They both came from humble beginnings: small protests against marijuana… Continue reading

All eyes on the surging Greens as Prince Edward Island goes to the polls

After a brief provincial election campaign devoid of drama, voters on Prince… Continue reading

North Dakota company where 4 were slain seeks normalcy

MANDAN, N.D. — Camaraderie was so important for the “coffee club” at… Continue reading

Trump blasts ex-advisers who say he tried to stop Mueller

WASHINGTON — A day after celebrating the release of the Mueller report… Continue reading

Sanders claims she didn’t lie, despite Mueller finding

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders pushed back Friday against… Continue reading

Most Read