Orthodox groups ask clemency for Jewish killer


(JTA) — Seven Orthodox Jewish groups appealed to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to grant clemency to a convicted Jewish murderer on death row.

Martin Edward Grossman, whose execution has been scheduled for Feb. 16, killed Margaret Park, a state wildlife officer, on Dec. 13, 1984.

The seven signatories — Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, the National Council of Young Israel, The Aleph Institute, United Jewish Community Advocacy Relations and Enrichment, and United Jewish Organizations — ask Gov. Charlie Crist to allow Grossman to spend the rest of his life in prison.

"There are several factors in this case that militate against imposing the ultimate penalty of capital punishment," says the letter, which was signed by the groups’ leaders. "Mr. Grossman was all of 19 years old at the time he committed his crime., He may have killed, but he is not a killer. He acted under the influence of drugs and alcohol."

The letter goes on to describe Grossman having become, since his imprisonment, "a proud practitioner of his faith and a humble servant of his G-d" and asks for a face-to-face meeting with Crist.

Grossman was 19 when Park tried to arrest him for shooting a stolen gun in an undeveloped area. He and a companion beat Park before shooting her with her own gun. At the time Grossman was on probation for grand theft and breaking and entering.

The Florida Supreme Court on Monday upheld Grossman’s death sentence.

The court denied Grossman’s claims that he was entitled to a new hearing to determine if his trial lawyer was ineffective for not having him examined by a competent mental health professional and for not presenting mitigating evidence to avoid a death sentence.

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