Martin Grossman is set to be executed in Florida on February 16th. He was convicted of murdering Pinellas County wildlife officer, Wildlife Officer Margaret “Peggy” Park, 26, in 1984. He and a friend went to a wooded area on Dec. 13, 1984 to shoot a stolen handgun. Park interrupted them. Grossman pleaded with her not to report him for having the gun and being outside Pasco County, both of which were violations of his probation for burglary.
During a struggle with Officer Park, Grossman got control of her gun and shot her in the head.
A jury convicted Grossman of first-degree murder and unanimously recommended a death sentence. Taylor, who was 17 at the time, was convicted of third-degree murder and was released in community supervision after serving two years and 10 months of a seven-year prison term.
There is now an outpouring of support in the Jewish community asking the Governor of Florida to commute his sentence to life in prison. In reviewing the “fact sheet of Amnesty International who opposes the death penatly in general, the main points seem to be as follows:
1. Ineffective Assistance Of Counsel at Sentencing-The Appeals Court rejected this claim.
2. A forensic psychologist hired years after conviction called Grossman’s mental state into question as to whether he could act in a pre-mediated fashion or whether his conduct should be mitigated. Grossman had a “a high level of fear and depression, and parental neglect, abandonment and mistreatment.”
3. The jury was not presented with evidence that Grossman was high on mind-altering drugs that negated the state of mind needed for a 1st degree murder conviction.
4. The length of time Grossman has been on death row-24 years.
5. He has become a devoutly religious Jew and has been a model prisoner.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal in 2007. The Florida Supreme Court rejected has latest one 11 months ago.
There is no reason for the governor to spare this guy’s life.
His ineffective assistance of counsel claim has been considered on appeal and rejected. It is not a proper purview of a Governor for commutation.
A judge has rejected a motion to consider the fact that the jury never heard about Grossman being on mind-altering drugs at the time of the crime. This decision was proper. Voluntary ingestion of illegal drugs generally does not negate the element of intent.
If there was evidence that despite the appeals court ruling, the 1st degree conviction was so out-of-whack with the facts I might be on board with looking at that. That however is not the case here Mr. Grossman killed a law enforcement officer in the course of her duties. He knew she was an officer when he killed her. In my mind, that is 1st degree murder.
His claim of “finding religion” fails as well. He has become a devout Jew gaining the support of Rabbis and Jewish organizations claiming he is a “changed person”. I am Jewish. I am glad Mr. Grossman has found his god in our religion. That does not get him off the needle. Theological considerations are not a proper criteria is making a commutation decision. Are we going to commute the sentence of every prisoner who claims he/she has “found god”? I hope Mr. Grossman’s god absolves and blesses him in the after-life. He however has been judged by his peers with due process on earth.
The fact that he has been a model prisoner carries no weight. That gets him extra commissary and television privileges, not a pass on the judgment of a jury.
Matthew Grossman, absent new evidence relating to his innocence or guilt or that the sentence is completely out of whack with the facts(which they do not appear to be) should be denied commutation and executed as scheduled on February 16th.