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February 16, 2010

Florida executes murderer despite pleas for mercy from many religious figures

As detailed in this local news article, Florida this evening carried out an execution of murderer whose death sentence had prompted many national and international religious figures to urge a grant of executive clemency.  Here are the details:

Martin Grossman was declared dead at 6:17 p.m. at the Florida state prison in Starke, 15 minutes after the start of his execution by lethal injection.

In a final statement, Grossman expressed remorse to the family of Peggy Park, the Florida wildlife officer he beat and shot to death more than 25 years ago. "I would like to extend my heartfelt remorse to the victim's family," Grossman said. "I fully regret everything that happened that night, everything that was done, whether I remember everything or not. I accept responsibility."

"I would like to say a prayer," the 45-year-old man added, then, lying on a gurney, hands strapped to arm boards and with needles in both arms, he began reciting a Jewish prayer called the Schma. It is the most sacred prayer in Judaism and the first prayer that Jewish children learn. Among its verses: "The Lord is our God, God is one."

Park's brother, sister and mother were among the 20 witnesses to the execution. They were seated directly in front of Grossman, who was visible through a window.

The Vatican, Jewish leaders as far away as Israel, and thousands of petitioners called for a stop to the execution on several grounds, including questions about whether the slaying was premeditated, Grossman's diminished IQ and his remorse for the crime. Grossman's religious adviser, Rabbi Menachem Katz, was with him in his cell throughout the day....

Last-minute efforts to spare Grossman's life extended to the Vatican, which sent a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist saying "the prisoner has repented and is now a changed person." The letter was sent in response to a request from Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen, chief Rabbi of Haifa, Israel.

Grossman is the 69th person executed in Florida since the death penalty was reinstated in 1979, and the 25th by lethal injection. He was the fifth inmate executed under Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who has been in office for three years.

Crist signed Grossman's death warrant Jan. 12. Since that time, his office has received about 49,000 letters, telephone calls or e-mails, according to a spokesman.

February 16, 2010 at 09:25 PM | Permalink

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Comments

So, secular politics overrules the compassionate voices of Christian and Jewish religious leaders, again. The world hears the hyprocracy of the bible belt and those others whose Christian values are paper thin and image selective. Enjoy your day. Look no further for the killing fields people - the US state machine, led by the Supreme Court and the Governor of Florida, triumphantly add another body to the graves.

Posted by: peter | Feb 17, 2010 4:16:51 AM

There is nothing hypocritical at all about being a Christian and believing that the death penalty in certain circumstances is appropriate.

Posted by: justice seeker | Feb 17, 2010 9:51:18 AM

It should also be mentioned that Governor Crist signed Mr. Grossman's warrant the day after he lost a straw poll in Pinellas County, where Mr. Grossman's crime had taken place. This is the second time Crist has appeared to bow to political pressure when it comes to administration of the death penalty.

Several months ago he signed a warrant in response to a local sheriff's internet petition. That execution was stayed by the Florida Supreme Court (the client had not yet even been to federal court and his state postconviction motion was still pending). The case ultimately reversed and a new penalty phase granted based on egregious prosecutorial conduct. State v. Paul Johnson, opinion can be found at: http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2010/sc08-1213.pdf

The arbitrary (and apparently politically motivated) manner in which Crist has selected his death warrants since he has announced his run for state sentate is disturbing to say the least.

Posted by: Maria | Feb 17, 2010 11:23:58 AM

sounds to me like he's a bigger criminal than the people he is killing.

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Feb 18, 2010 12:22:40 AM

peter --

"So, secular politics overrules the compassionate voices of Christian and Jewish religious leaders, again."

Actually, it was secular law. And I'd be interested to know whether you fully believe in the separation of church and state.

"The world hears the hyprocracy of the bible belt and those others whose Christian values are paper thin and image selective."

How odd to be invoking religion in your first sentence and then ridiculing those religious yahoos in your second. Why is it that the self-proclaimed elite inevitably knows better than the majority?

"Look no further for the killing fields people - the US state machine, led by the Supreme Court and the Governor of Florida, triumphantly add another body to the graves."

I think you forgot the jury, plus a zillion reviewing courts other than the Supreme Court. Are they all bloodlusting barbarians?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 18, 2010 12:37:20 AM

Bill - "Are they all bloodlusting barbarians?"
No. Just so far removed intellectually and spiritually from the truth that they no longer recognize it. I'm currently reading a book by Philip Yancey, first published in 1997 - What's So Amazing About Grace? isbn 9780310245650
I can recommend it ... over 400,000 copies have been sold. From the cover -
"Grace does not excuse wrong, says Yancey, but it treasures the wrongdoer. True grace is shocking, scandalous. It shakes our conventions with its insistence on getting close to evil and touching it with mercy and hope."

Posted by: peter | Feb 18, 2010 4:31:08 AM

peter --

1. Do you fully believe in the separation of church and state?

2. Why should the majority defer to a minority that makes so clear its contempt for them as moral and intellectual imbeciles?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 18, 2010 10:59:31 PM

Bill-

1. Yes, I believe in the separation of church and state. However, I also believe that as the single most powerful agent of social brotherhood/sisterhood, the church and state each have a responsibility and accountability to one another to work together on the great social and moral issues of our age.
2. All the great social and humanitarian issues in history have evolved a solution that began with the voice of a minority – from the abolition of slavery, the vote of women, the right of universal education etc. The trigger has sometimes been the voice of one man (almost) alone.

The great Commandment “thou shalt not kill” applies to ALL MANKIND, excepting on the battlefield in self-defense or defense of the nation. There are no necessary or moral exceptions in civil life.

Posted by: peter | Feb 19, 2010 2:48:32 AM

peter --

One cannot simultaneously (1) fully support the separation of church and state and (2) insist that those two institutions have responsibility "and accountability" to one another. If the state is "accountable" to the church, it can hardly be independent of it.

The idea that "Thou Shalt Not Kill" has only the two exceptions you describe is, with all respect, conclusory, not analytical.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Feb 20, 2010 4:08:01 AM

Bill
The state can certainly be both responsible to and accountable to the Church (for matters pertaining to morality and humanity) whose membership, however loose, includes a vast body of the populace, including, so it is claimed, most politicians. The Church is the single largest body representing the spiritual and moral interests of society. To deny it influence and partnership is to deny accountability of the state to the social health and interests of society. If the state is to totally reject the guidance of the Church in such matters as can be commonly agreed within the plurality of the leadership of that body, then it sets itself up to be both in opposition to the Church and to the commitment of society to the moral values it espouses. That is a dangerous position indeed, and may already have resulted in the general decline of respect for moral values in society .... at what cost now and in the future?

Of course, if you reject the place and importance of the Church in society, and the relevance of its teachings, then you will indeed have no reference or reverence to the words Thou shalt Not Kill. That being so, you will select a personal meaning that best supports your political views, and one that has no reference to moral authority whatsoever. That being so, how are you to claim greater moral authority for your actions and views over the criminal?

Posted by: peter | Feb 20, 2010 9:45:04 AM

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