Canada

HUNTER: Canadian on death row 30 years weighs options

Alberta native Ronald Smith is in death row in Montana.

Stanley Faulder got the big adios on June 17, 1999.

The Alberta native was the first Canadian executed in the United States since Toronto killer Stanley Buckowski went to the gas chamber at San Quentin in 1952.

It went down in the death house in Huntsville, Texas.

Stanley Faulder was executed in 1999.
Stanley Faulder was executed in 1999. Photo by HANDOUT /TEXAS DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS

Faulder paid the ultimate price for the 1975 murder of Texas woman Inez Scarborough Phillips, 75, during a botched robbery. A jury in the Lone Star State stamped his ticket one-way in 1977.

Canada protested. Texas nodded. Ha. Ha.

Few Canadians have been executed in the U.S. Currently, there is just one on death row and that’s Ronald Smith.

A longtime denizen of Montana’s death row, Smith got another reprieve when the state shot down a bill to resume executions last month.

Like his killer confreres on the alley of the doomed from Florida to Indiana, Smith has been facing the needle for a long time.

Originally from Red Deer, Alta., Smith was convicted and sentenced to death in 1983 for a 1982 double murder in the border state.

Smith, 63, recently told The Canadian Press, he’s at the point now that death is “preferable” to more years with a sword poised over his head.

Stanley Buckowski: Death in the gas chamber.
Stanley Buckowski: Death in the gas chamber. Photo by HANDOUT /CA. DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS

“Obviously, I’m happy about it, but at the same time it keeps running through the back of my head, ‘Oh crap. I’m stuck sitting around here again,'” Smith told the wire service.

“A lot of people look at it and say, ‘Well at least you’re alive,’ but I’m really not. I’m just sitting around like a bump on a log …, and after almost 40 years of this, anything is preferable.”

Death used to come quicker for the condemned. Even in this country.

You’re convicted of first-degree murder in March, you’re swinging at the end of a noose by summer.

And I’ve known homicide cops over the years that prefer killers getting life in prison (when that actually means you’re gone forever) to the death penalty.

“Life in prison is worse. Knowing you are never going to breathe free again. That’s the crueller punishment,” one detective in Florida told me years ago.

Smith’s crime was horrendous and he took responsibility. He pleaded guilty and told prosecutors he was ready to die.

The Albertan and a pal named Rodney Munro were stoned on LSD and booze when they executed two Indigenous cousins named Harvey Mad Man, 23, and Thomas Running Rabbit, 20, near East Glacier, Mont., with bullets to the head.

Munro took a plea bargain and was transferred to a Canadian prison. He has been a free man since 1998.

“He’s been out 23 years and doing well, and I wish him all the very best. Had I taken that plea deal, then I’d have been out a long time ago. It’s hard not to have that in the back of your mind on a pretty regular basis,” Smith added.

“I’m getting pretty much what I deserve for the crime I committed.”

Stanley Buckowski didn’t have to wait long for his trip to oblivion back in 1952.

On July 30, 1949, he robbed a Parliament St. Loblaws and while fleeing, shot to death RCAF vet Alfred Edward Layng in front of his wife and four-year-old daughter.

Less than a week later, cops in Wasaga Beach found the bodies of vacationing Toronto couple, Robert and Gloria McKay. Detectives suspected a link.

In 1950, a Los Angeles woman was murdered during a break-in and Buckowski was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to die in the gas chamber at the Big Q.

  1. Alberta native Ronald Smith is in death row in Montana.

    Canadian on death row says execution may be 'preferable' to endless prison time

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  3. This Feb. 29, 2000, file photo shows the execution chamber at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit in Huntsville, Texas.

    'THIS IS TORTURE': Proposed law in Montana looms over Canadian on death row

He never faced extradition back to Canada.

California took care of Buckowski. Then again, in 1952, we would have, too.

bhunter@postmedia.com

@HunterTOSun

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