The execution date for Ronald Allen Smith has yet to be set – that’s supposed to happen Wednesday – but Helena District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock has already stayed it.
Sherlock granted an injunction mid-afternoon today effectively stopping the execution of Smith, who shot cousins Harvey Mad Man and Thomas Running Rabbit near Marias Pass in 1982 so – as he later told authorities – he could see what it felt like to kill someone.
He’s the only Canadian on death row in the United States and one of only two people on death row in Montana. Today’s injunction was sought by Helena attorney Ron Waterman, who contends that Montana’s method of lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual.
In addition, Waterman argued, the state has no approved execution site, given that the old house trailer that serves as the execution chamber has been moved to make way for an addition – as yet incomplete – at Montana State Prison.
As of 5 p.m today, Wednesday’s hearing in Deer Lodge to set the date for Smith execution was still scheduled to go forward. Courts are closed tomorrow for Election Day. The hearing is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday.
We’ll let you know as soon as we do whether that’s still going to happen.