Here is the letter that is being organized by Rabbi Zvi Boyarski at the Aleph Institute. Individuals and organizations who can sign on should do so by e-mailing their letter to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
A first use of this petition is scheduled for Monday evening (Feb. 1), but signatures may be added even after that time. Thank you for anything you can do to push this along to those who would want to assist.
Petition to Support a Grant of Time to Present a Petition for Commutation
in the Case of Martin Grossman
To: The Honorable Charles Crist, Governor, State of Florida
We write to request a 60-day stay of execution to enable a concerned community to prepare a clemency petition to the Executive Clemency Board of the State of Florida asking for commutation of sentence, from death to life without parole, in the case of Martin Grossman. We feel conscience-driven to do this because the Grossman case is so different from other death sentence cases that we feel you may agree with us that Martin Grossman does not deserve to die for his crime.
Martin was a troubled youth suffering from incipient paranoia, adjustment problems, lack of judgment, drug addiction, and panic attacks when, as a 19-year-old, he was startled and stopped by a park security officer, Margaret Parks, whom he killed in a hand-to-hand struggle. Although he was mentally disturbed and out of control at the time, his trial went awry because the crime fit the technical definition of “premeditated murder” for the simple reason that Martin was on probation from a youth facility (for burglary) at that time. His probation violation being a “crime,” he was considered to have killed the officer while committing another crime, and thus, premeditation. This technical definition made Martin eligible for the death penalty. Martin’s father was a military man who had been disabled and then died. The family was without funds for a vigorous defense. In addition, this death sentence case is different from others because:
Martin shot while in a state of “frenzy and panic,” and he did not plan to kill her (or anyone else) at the time.
Martin’s sentence was extremely disproportionate to other criminals who receive the death sentence, and was not worse than many, many other criminals who receive considerably less punishment. His co-defendant got only three years.
Martin has an IQ of 77, and at the time of the crime was uneducated, unsocialized, and suffered from a seizure disorder and possible organic brain dysfunction since earliest childhood. He probably misunderstood the nature of his crime and surely was not able to cooperate in his own defense to the degree needed.
Martin’s tragic childhood and adolescence was never adequately presented to jury, judge or appeals courts. In the sentencing phase, 30 out of 33 of the witnesses he wanted were not called, and the terrible result was the ultimate penalty.
Martin has an intact and humane conscience, and has suffered constantly from remorse and contrition for his crime. He is not a manipulative or cagey person with the ability to “fake good” – his intellectual limitations make it clear that his emotional presentation is honest and uncontrived.
There were many irregularities both with Martin’s trial and with the appeals and post-conviction actions. Many of the errors were admitted by one court or another but characterized as “harmless errors.” The cumulative effect of these errors, however, was to make it much harder for the unfortunate genuine fact situation to be clearly seen. That fact situation would not lead a jury, in this time and place, to conclude that Martin Grossman should be put to death.
In the event that Governor Crist will not grant that commutation outright, we the undersigned beseech the Governor to mercifully grant a 60 day stay which will allow for a comprehensive clemency petition to be assembled, presented and considered. We strongly allowing for a consideration of the issues presented are in the interest of the State of Florida in tempering justice with mercy.