Activists urge Crist to stay Grossman execution
listen

02/12/10 Kate Bradshaw
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

Large_1271
Medium


Letter from Elie Wiesel to Gov. Charlie Crist.


photo by

Last month, Governor Charlie Crist signed a death warrant for Martin E. Grossman, who is on death row for the 1984 murder of 26-year-old wildlife officer Margaret Peggy Park. The execution, which is scheduled for Tuesday at 6pm, would make Grossman the fourth person in Pinellas County to receive the death penalty, and the 69th statewide. But a coalition of religious and human rights groups is urging Governor Crist to stay the execution. Rabbi Menachem Katz, Grossman’s spiritual advisor, said in a conference call this morning that regardless of how one feels about the death penalty, the facts of the case should keep Grossman alive.

“There was never any intent by Martin to kill that woman that night. There was never any intent at any point. Of course, he did kill her, but that was no premeditation. There was never any intent," Katz said.

Those advocating a stay on his execution say that he has shown extensive remorse, and that his cognitive health should have been taken into consideration. Laura Moy of Amnesty International said that the jury was not given adequate information on Grossman’s mental state. “It seems that in this case that the jury was not given any information at all about his mental health, and that the defense didn’t present any expert mental health testimony about Mr. Grossman. So we don’t think the jury had an adequate picture of who they were judging," Moy said.

She said that a post-sentence examination arranged by Grossman’s defense team confirmed that the defendant was mentally ill.

"We cite the fact that a forensic psychologist who was hired by Mr. Grossman’s lawyers well after the conviction believed, quote, that Grossman had compromised intellectual functioning, probable brain dysfunction, and a developmental history characterized by profound and untreated complicated bereavement. And a high level of fear and depression and parental neglect, abandonment and mistreatment. And as you’ve seen, also, his IQ has been scored at 77.”

Bonita Stanley of the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said that the mental health aspect doesn’t apply in Florida, given that it is one of a few states that executes even those deemed mentally ill.

“One of the things that troubles us most about the Grossman case is the mental health acuity aspect. We believe that the application of the death penalty to anyone suffering from any mental illness does not comport with contemporary standards of decency. We remain one of the few nations in the Western hemisphere that condemns people to death," said Stanley.

A petition on the Web calling on Crist to stay the execution has accumulated nearly 19,000 electronic signatures, which Mark Elliott, Executive Director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty calls an unprecedented outpour of support for Grossman. The case has even caught the eye of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, who wrote a letter to Governor Crist urging him to reconsider the death warrant. Elliott read the letter, dated February 11th, aloud.

While those who participated in today’s conference call questioned the legality and morality of capital punishment in the case of Grossman, most were also concerned with the greater context – that perhaps the death penalty is no longer an appropriate means of punishment for those convicted of heinous crimes. Elliott said that the financial burden of keeping hundreds of prisoners on death row at a time is massive. “In the 25 years since Martin Grossman’s family turned him in to the authorities, he has been alone in a tiny cell on Florida’s death row. And a lot has happened. Florida taxpayers have spent over $1 billion on the death penalty program, while over 10,000 unsolved homicides have accumulated.”

Elliott added that Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty wants to see that money get put to better use:

“FADP seeks the reallocation of state funding away from trying to kill already locked-up prisoners to preventing more violent crimes and supporting law enforcement by better protecting those who protect us. The $50 million a year that Florida spends on our death penalty program could be reinvested to hire and rehire 1,000 law enforcement officers, solve some of the more than 10,000 unsolved homicides, and provide real assistance to the victims of violent crimes and their families.”

He added that death row prisoners generally share some striking similarities.

“Over 90 percent could not afford a lawyer at the time of their arrest. Many are mentally ill. Many have low IQs, and far too many are minorities. No government program should be allowed to decide who among us lives and who among us dies.”

Sheila Hopkins of the Florida Catholic Conference said that while her religion does not condemn the death penalty outright, a life sentence would be a much more ethical punishment in cases like that of Grossman.

“The death penalty perpetuates the notion of revenge in our current culture rather than fostering a sense of justice. Life in prison without possible of parole is punishment for an offender. And we have delivered our statement to the governor yesterday and released to the press begging the governor to stay the execution of Martin Grossman. That resorting to state-sanctioned violence such as execution is not appropriate for society, and we ask that (the governor) let him spend the rest of his life on death row," Hopkins said.

Martin Grossman is one of 390 people on death row in Florida, and one of more than 3,000 nationwide. The Governor’s office did not return a call from WMNF on the issue.

comments powered by Disqus

Comments

teacher of special education

I am horrified that an obviously mentally incompetent person, and one whose limitations weren't adequately addressed at trial will be murdered by the state.Injustice does not serve society.

Pastor, United Church of Gainesville

Killing another person does nothing to decrease the culture of violence in our state

Don't believe IQ of 77

Google Martin Eddie Grossman poet and you'll see his personal ad from prison. This is not a man with an IQ of 77. Something is very fishy about them saying he's impaired. That doesn't mean I support the death penalty. It just means that, if his execution is canceled, it should be about the crime or whatever and not IQ. As far as the signatures, the community is going crazy getting signatures, even having schools tell children to tell their parents, and rabbis telling congregants. I hope very much that he isn't executed, because I don't think anybody should be. But he's no better than the others on Death Row. I think it should be examined as a punishment and they should halt all executions. That doesn't mean having a very vocal community is the reason one man should be freed and the others should be put to death.

Mr

Capital Punishment is beyond developed civilized societies culture. Happy sentencing prison nation must not top China exposing already world highest prisoner rate.

Miss

If you reread the petition, you'll see that it does not ask for his sentence to be revised as of now--it simply asks for a stay of clemency so that the sentence can be reexamined, something that should happen given both Martin Grossman's unfortunate background and the nature of the crime he was committing. Although he was convicted for premeditated murder because of a technicality, his crime in no way constituted premeditation, and should not be judged as such.

Not really

First of all, if you look up the extensive list of appeals (the most recent one to he Supreme Court) you can see that he's really exhausted the appeals process, so 60 days would prove nothing. If you mean that he should have his execution delayed because the governor feels so much pressure from the Orthodox Jewish community threatening his political future, I guess that's up to the governor. Actually, if you do some research on premeditated murder, it doesn't just mean someone planning for days, or more, to murder someone. Fighting with someone 100 lbs. less than he was, hitting her over the head with her heavy flashlight while his partner held her down (20-30 deep contusions on her head and upper body) and then he pulled out his gun and shot her in the head? There were many moments there where he could have stopped himself from killing her. It's not like losing your mind for one moment. He was going to either beat her to death deliberately (and he was close to it) or shoot her to death. Sounds premeditated in my book. Obviously, the Death Penalty is terrible. But let's be honest about this stay of execution. It's just a way to give his community (or I should say adopted community, since he wasn't a religious man until he decided to join that group while on Death Row) more time to put pressure on the governor. There's nothing left to prove except whether a governor will buckle to a particular ethnic and religious group and spare a man's life. Peronally, I think everybody on Death Row should be given life without parole instead, including Martin Grossman. But those Orthodox Jews who are so enthusiastically rallying for him actually support the death penalty. They just don't think a fellow Jew should be executed, no matter what the crime. So the governor's decision is whether any Orthodox Jew should be spared no matter how cruel the murder, in order to avoid the intense pressure of the Jewish community. Tough decision for the governor.

Justice

Fry this mutant ASAP!

Ms



anita

let he who is without sin throw the first stone.

Let he who is without sin...?

In response to Anita, I may not be without sin, but I sure as heck didn't pummel a 26 year old woman repeatedly before shooting her in the head.

?

why did it take 25 years to a) bring forward evidence of his mental state, and b) get around to executing him? a 60-day stay of execution, if his defenders can make a case for clemency, isn't going to make a huge difference, so why are some people so opposed to it? keeping a prisoner on death row for 25 years in the first place is cruel for the convict and extremely costly for the state. his entire conviction should be challenged on the grounds of "cruel and unusual punishment".

Did God Say...

The question isn't..what is your I.Q.. it was did he kill.. He wasn't found guilty of not being smart..He was found Guilty of Murder...the women is Dead...Dead...she had no choice..He killed her..shouldn't he receive exactly what he gave out?? I am a firm believer is Love, Hope, Faith, and Charity...and I'm so sorry my friend but you did the crime you pay the penalty for that crime.. Bottom line is God says you do the crime you pay the same price for the crime that you metered out in the crime...and I don't think the Word of God is wrong...there's crime and punishment and BOTH must have the fullness of the law behind them in order for this world is live with peace..and if this does not bring peace then at least that person will Never kill again..We may have to deal with others of the same mind..but it will be one less...

professor

since there are questions, let's not make the same mistake as many years ago in the pencil factory incident, let's have the situation reevaluated before it's too late!

How about honesty

This individual (Grossman) needs to be expunged from society for the ruthless killing of the young officer, regardless of his ethnic background. If Elie Weisel was concerned about indiscrimanate killing he needs to write a letter of outrage to his Israeli counterparts and the IDF that are responsible for killing thousands of innocent Palestinians and young children. His hypocrisy and concern for this one brutal killer only because he is Jewish is over the top.

AZ Jew

"Honestman" seems to be incensed about the IDF killing thousands of innocent Pelstinians "and Young Children". Anybody who knows anything about the situation in Gaza knows this is not true. The IDF attacked only after repeated attacks on Israeli civilians. Hamas certainly wasn't maintaining order and preventing those rocket attacks. They do more killing of Moderate Arabs then the IDF ever has. Thats what alot of the killings during the "Intifada" were was Radical Palestinians terrorizing their own population.

Reponse to "ME"

"Peronally, I think everybody on Death Row should be given life without parole instead, including Martin Grossman. But those Orthodox Jews who are so enthusiastically rallying for him actually support the death penalty." I wouldn't make such a claim. THe state of Israel which although by far is not a religious state, although leans in it's views with religious attitudes doens't have the death penalty. Even for the terrorists who kill their children on the buses, in the streets, and in the wars. If you're anti-relgious, just say so...but don't make false claims. Additionally, call the religious community Mr. Grossman's "adopted" community if you want. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. They would do this even if he wasn't religious. It's just that since he became religious, his rabbi is the one who made everybody aware of his behavior currently...I didn't see anybody else doing that.

Mrs

even in South Africa which is a 3rd world country we no longer have the Death Penalty- they have zoned in on him because he is a Jew. To save one Jew is to save a Nation - fight fight fight for this cause

Tea Party Issue

He needs to die because he was sentenced to death as a ruthless killer of this young female officer. The fact that he is a Jew should have no bearing whatsoever on this....but the Jewish community has oddly made into their pet issue only because he is Jewish. If Gov. Christ commutes the sentence of this killer it will become an issue by Tea Party, you can bet on it.

mrs.

Life without parole, but not death sentence. Its easy to be remorseful after long incarceration, who wouldn't be? In spite of talk about his level of intelligence, etc., the most unsophisticated of us are still aware of right and wrong. Its important to protect the rights of a fellow human being; stop with the 'fellow Jew' business, it makes things worse. Before you all jump on me for being an antisemite, I am very Jewish.

Eye for an eye

This killer deserves all the consideration he gave his victim. As a Jew I am more disgusted by his acts, not forgiving of them in any way. Let the punishment fit the crime.

more blood spilled does not fix anything..it adds

Incarceration yes..death penalty no!!

Proper punishment

Capital punishment is a definite deterrent, since it insures that the perpetrator won't repeat any similar offense, and it teaches others that certain crimes reap definite consequences !!!

Let he without sin...

Let he without sin throw the first stone??? This statement was made over 2,000 yrs ago, because some religious leaders were trying to trap a rabbi into condemning a woman without demonstrating justice in that particular case. Her crime was worthy of the death penalty, but they chose the woman as an example, without even explaining the absence of her equally guilty partner. Where was the other perpetrator? Let's not compare apples with oranges. The wages of sin are death, but justice also needs to be served. "Let he without sin..." is not an applicable statement for Martin Grossman. If his crime was some kind of similar "set up" ... than it might be a good thing to further investigate his situation.

Mr.

"By SARAH LARIMER, AP. STARKE, FL -Florida has executed 45-yr-old Martin Edward Grossman, who was convicted of killing a state wildlife officer during the 1980s. Gov Charlie Crist's office said Grossman died at 6:17pm on Tuesday at Florida State Prison. He was convicted of 1st-degree murder in the death of Margaret "Peggy" Park, a Florida wildlife officer who was shot with her own gun in 1984. Grossman was the 69th person executed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated here in 1979. He was the 25th by lethal injection, the 5th executed under Florida Gov Charlie Crist and the 1st in 2010. Park's family traveled from Ohio to witness the execution."

Mr.

Martin has now gone to meet his Maker, who manifested Himself 2000 years ago, (Isaiah 7;14,) and who died for him,(Psalm 22;12-18,)and who asked us to consider Himself like (Numbers 21;8-9,) (John 3; (14-15,)and begs us to check out the hundreds of prophecies concerning Himself before he returns soon to manifest hinself (Zechariah 12;10,)to all you long suffering Jewish people for whom my heart breaks. Hopefully Martin looked at the "serpent and pole" before he was executed and so will "live for ever."