Post-Furman Convictions

After the Supreme Court decision in Furman in the early 70’s, executions in the United States were temporary halted due too serious questions about inequity in the application of the death penalty to minorities and the poor.

Since 1973, Montana has imposed a sentence on 13 men. The results of those death sentences follow:

Total Sentenced to Death 13
Executed:

  • Duncan McKenzie (5/10/1995)
  • Terry Langford (2/24/1998)
  • David Thomas Dawson (8/11/06)
3
Died in prison (suicide):

  • Rodney Sattler (02/02/2004)
  • Douglas Turner (07/08/2003)
2
Death sentenced overturned, and resentenced:

  • Daniel Martin Johnson (plea agreement to life w/o parole)
  • Bernard Fitzpatrick (300 years w/o parole)
  • Dewey Coleman (220 years)
  • Lester Kills on Top (2x life terms + 40 years w/o parole)
  • Vernon Kills on Top (2x life terms + 40 years w/o parole)
5
Sentence Commuted by Governor:

  • David Keith*
1
Currently under sentence of death:

  • William Jay Gollehon
  • Ronald Allen Smith
2

*Reasons reportedly included Keith’s partial paralysis and blindness, remorse, religious conversion, and the possibility that he may have shot the victim as a reflex action. Note: Montana is a state in which the governor must have the recommendation of clemency from a board or advisory group.