Op-Ed: 10 Reasons Why Martin Grossman Should Get Clemency


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[Op-Ed By Yossi Gestetner] Following are Fact-Points regarding Martin Grossman – Why he should get Clemency instead of being executed on Feb 16, 2010 6:00 PM EST, for a crime he committed approximately 25 years ago, while intoxicated at age 19.

1) At age 15, Martin’s father passed away. Martin was the one needed to take care for his challenged Mom, rather than the other way around. In addition, Martin had little family around him. Result? A youngster who was ripe to get into trouble roamed the streets of Florida.

2) When Martin killed the 26-year-old Wildlife officer in the woods, he was under the influence of contraband drugs and/or he drank alcohol shortly after taking medicine for his mental challenges. Either way, he was NOT in a state of stable-mind to control everything he did or shouldn’t do at that time.

3) In addition to point two, Martin has an IQ of 77.

4) Martin did NOT shoot the officer in cold blood. Instead, because he was on probation, he pleaded with her that she not arrest him. She went on trying to arrest him. Things got out of hand, which took the life of Ms. Parks.

5) Some people wonder, if Martin was not in a stable state of mind, in addition to having a low IQ, how did he know that Ms. Parks may cost him trouble? Well, small-minded and deranged people understand that walking off a roof-top isn’t exactly a good idea. Sensing danger is what Under Influence people detect.

6) It appears criminal that Martin was on probation, however be aware of the fact that his crime was a stupid burglary, committed when he was age seventeen, a Juvenile without parents.

7) The MAIN reason prosecutors treated the Martin/Parks case as a first degree murder and in-turn requested the ultimate penalty, is due to Martin’s probation. As a result, prosecutors were able to claim that the Parks killing took place during a crime in progress. However, as indicated above, the “crime in progress” was Martin’s violating probation for a burglary he committed as a juvenile… (No one is advocating that burglary is not a crime. However, we would not want that a person should lose their life based on a burglary either…)

8 ) Martin did NOT have proper legal nor biological (family) representation at the time, thus permitting the prosecutors to have a free ride with this case.

9) The crime was done 25 years ago. While time does not take away the fact that the Parks family had pain all those years, executing Grossman at the scheduled time will not serve justice, considering that the calm, well-behaving, staying-away-from-trouble, repentant, grown-man, at age 44 in 2010 who never had a chance of a normal lovable life, is NOT the same person as the lost, 19 year-old, orphan who turned to alcohol and/or drugs to forget of his pains. The death penalty by NO MEANS is intended for such circumstances!

10) Justice waited more than 9,125 days (25-plus years) to finally get its day. Therefore, can justice wait maybe just another 60-90 more days to give those caring for Martin a chance to explore all legal avenues available?

We all ask and plea that YES should be the answer.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

To read more from and about Yossi, visit www.yossigestetner.com.

(Yossi Gestetner – YWN)


  1. Alan Dershowitz was given a half story this morning and issued an uninformed opinion without ‎analyzing the facts of the case. The author is apparently grandstanding and hoping to be considered in ‎Alan’s league. Hopefully the astute reader realizes that if you use the “rationale” used by the author, ‎you can rest assured that you will do more harm than good. The following are gentle responses you ‎would get to the various excuses given in the above article:‎

    ‎1] What about the other murderers on Death Row? They too hung around with the wrong crowd.‎

    ‎2] Substance abuse is not considered mental illness to be used as a mitigating circumstance.‎

    ‎3] That is still legally defined as a borderline intellect, not mental retardation.‎

    ‎6] Tell us your address OR read the court documents. His probation was for ARMED burglary not a ‎‎“stupid” petty shoplifting.‎

    ‎8] This is not the Ukraine. Prosecutors don’t care how many letters or supporters the person has. They ‎don’t indiscriminately arrest and detain people based on cheerleaders. He had a hard life but so did ‎almost every violent criminal who didn’t control their anger.‎

    ‎9] If Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was held in jail for 25 years would you say the same? Get real this is a ‎childish argument if there ever was one.‎

  2. he killed someone. he chose to not look her in the face and instead chose to shoot in the back. he may have been drunk and/or on drugs and may have had family problems, but how many people do we know in the frum community or not that have the same tzurises. do they go and shoot someone in the back of head? no! he did they crime and this is his punishment. he isn’t being treated any differently than anyother person who commits cold blooded murder.

  3. 2 points: (1) In America it is very very rare for someone to get the death penalty for a single homicide. Usually it is for multiple homicide or rape/homicide or something with extraordinarily horrible circumstances. If you want to say murderers should always get death, fine. But that is not the system we have and when we do give the death penalty it should be done consistently.
    (2) Martin is clearly not now a threat to anyone. If he instead got life behind bars he would have many more years of doing mitzvot & tshuvah. This could only be a good thing for everyone. The only reason to give him the DP is revenge for a crime done 25 years ago.

  4. JT141414:
    It’s not rare if a person killed a uniformed officer. They protect society and need greater protection than the regular society. Similar to the large penalties for hitting a road construction worker. They are helping society and deserve the extra protection they are legally granted.

    Punishment for a crime is part of the Seven Noachide Laws and is NOT revenge. If a child was chas v’shalom killed due to malpractice, is suing the doctor called punishment for irresponsibility or revenge?


    As for the author’s argument #10:

    How ingrateful are you?

    The only reason he shlepped it out for 25 years was because of silly appeals. He was given due process, he had 25 years to figure out some mitigating circumstance. He has failed to figure a way to beat the rap until now, why have the victim’s family suffer in agony as frivolous suit after frivolous suit is filed. Governor Crist is a fair person and knows that laws are made to be followed or will be rendered moot.

    The victim is always more important than the perpetrator.

  5. Unfortunately everyone above wants to play judge and jury. But Hashem is the only judge. It is not up to us to keep showing our yetzer horah at its worst.

    It is a horrific situation when yiddin themselves are sonei yisroel. If you don’t know this person, or have no concept of his circumstances and have not spent any time with him in the past when he was a young boy or the present when he has done teshuva, how can you possibly pass judgment and offer such opinions?????

    When you don’t understand anything about the parsha of children of dysfunctional homes, the pain they go through and the mistakes they make, please, please just stop with the chilul Hashem wishing him death.

    He made a horrific mistake in his youth, under horrendous circumstances. Someone else who had a family or people who care enough would have gotten him off on a mental plea. This man does not deserve to die, he might not deserve to be free, but no one has the right to ask for and be happy about his death.

    Hashem Yirachem

  6. Artchill: I know this is a very difficult topic, and am glad we could have a civil discussion. You are right to note that he killed a uniformed officer and this was almost certainly the reason that the DA asked for the Death Penalty. BUT the only reason he was eligable by law for the DP was because he was ‘violating parole’ by committing another crime. Under FL law, had he killed the officer but not been under parole he could not have gotten the death penalty. This is why it is rare to get the penalty for one murder and nothing else – FL law doesnt allow it. In this case however, they used a loophole (parole) to make him elligable.
    As to your second point, your analogy doesnt really apply. We allow medical malpractice wrongful death suits a)to compensate the family for loss of the child b)to deter doctors from making fatal mistakes. (Not to punish, nor for revenge) In this case, putting Martin to death will not compensate the victim’s family, and will not deter future murders (studies have shown this to be especially true in systems like ours where the death penalty is not applied consistently and is given many years after the crime) Punishment without benefit to society or an agrieved individual is the same thing as revenge.

  7. 2 other points:
    1) Too often, death penalty decisions become too politicized. Governors tend to sign death warrants when they are in political dogfights to give them ‘tough on crime credentials’. This is a shame, and should not be part of the process.
    2) Many gdolai yisrael have signed a letter saying asking Gov Crist for a stay. I think this says something.

  8. As far as the person who wrote this is not the Ukraine…
    The death penalty is very controversial. Proof: how many people get a reprieve literally hours before they are executed? How many people exhaust appeals and die even though there may be other avenues?
    Clemency is a LEGAL concept and anybody is entitled to petition for it WITHIN the law.

  9. This article teaches us that killing people can be okay if it’s just because, as the writer says, “Things got out of hand.”

    This is not true.

  10. It is not up to us as yidden to judge another, but it is up to us to advocate for him. His crimes are worthy of incarceration, I don’t think we halachically can advocate for his death. I have a child with an IQ of 75, and I can tell you that if he were in a similar situation, CV, his fear of the officer ‘telling on him’ would cause a rise of aggression in him. That is part of the disability. Of all the arguments and extenuating circumstances, the ONLY one I think has merit is his low IQ. And not just merit as an argument, but I can really see it as a possibility.

  11. The same holds true of a large number of capital offenses. Virtually all cases involve a large time gap. Virtually all persons sentenced to death are from “deprived” backgrounds. The truth is that nice middle class kids rarely commit crimes outrageous enough to warrant capital punishment, and even more rarely get sentenced to death.

    The arguments are a good reason to oppose the death penalty. While prompt, public and certain execution would be a more effective deterrent to those who chose to murder others, the specifics of the case (other than race and ethnicity) are hardly unique.

  12. There is no evidence that Grossman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And he never claimed to be.

    Grossman was tested when he was first sent to prison and had an IQ score of 77. Alone it is irrelevant. He was examined by numerous defense psychologists and no one claimed that he was mentally retarded or that it was mitigation. Still, the jury was aware of it and could take it into consideration but did not find it compelling.

    Grossman was initially sent to prison for residential burglary. When he was released from prison a few months before the murder, he had gone back to burglary. The gun Officer Park took from him was stolen in one of his burglaries.

    Grossman made a conscious decision that he was not going back to prison. In order to achieve this, he decided to beat Officer Park to death. When this didn’t work, he used her handgun to shoot her point blank in the head. This is sufficient premeditation.

    Also, because the murder was committed during the commission of three felonies, premeditation is not required to find him guilty of first degree murder.

    Grossman was charged with the death penalty because he murdered a law enforcement officer. It was also a very brutal crime.

    After blowing Officer Parks brains out, Grossman retrieved the stolen handgun and stole her handgun. He retrieved his van keys and his driver’s license off Officer Park. He returned home and buried the two handguns. His clothes and shoes were covered with the officer’s blood, so he tried to burn them. That didn’t work so he threw them in a lake. He cleaned his van of any blood and changed the tires because he left tracks.

    If he was crazy, he was crazy like a fox.

    All this information is readily available on the internet – most of it comes from Grossman himself in statements he gave to defense experts.

  13. The Op-Ed piece, while sincere, is weak.

    The only point worthy of reconsideration is his IQ. I am not sure where the law stands on crimes committed by someone with an IQ that low, which, literally, is not normal. I am certain they would lack an understanding of social mores. And, the fact that he had been in trouble with burglary, perhaps the courts did not offer him the kind of close watch and counseling someone with an IQ of 77 would require.

    Having worked in educational process with such individuals via a social service agency, I can tell you the policies for someone with a low IQ, required extraordinary rules and procedures to be followed. Generally, the thought was they could NOT be mainstreamed because many kinds of societal infractions could occur.

    Other than that, the intoxication issue is a non-issue because the majority (over 50%) of murders, violent crimes, auto-fatalities (Chas VShalom to all of those things), are committed while the individual is under the influence of one substance or another.

  14. #14, you claim the IQ of 77 is irrelevant? In Grossman’s defense, you should check with Easter Seals Society to find out why, and if there is a legal basis, the rules and procedures for staff are very different and specific for low intelligence clients as compared to their at-risk clients. As I stated earlier, there were strict rules to governance over low IQ clients to prevent anti-social behavior problems. Incidentally, they guidelines for low IQ clients were more specific and controlling than for those of at-risk clients who had run-ins with the law.

  15. #14, in fact, here is just a tiny bit of evidence that came up regarding low IQ and antisocial behavior.


    I think there is evidence to win another look. Perhaps even the department that put him on probation is liable for treating him like someone with a normal IQ who would understand social mores and values.

    This case is starting to smell fishy.

  16. #16 & #17: He does not meet the very specific criteria under Florida State Statutes (Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.203) and case law (Johnston v. State (2006) 960 So. 2d 757) for mental retardation as a bar to the imposition of the death penalty. That requires an IQ of 69 or below. Also, a single low test is not an accurate assessment of functioning in that it may be because of behaviourial and emotional issues. I believe he had learning disabilities. His attendance was poor in school and he dropped out at age 15. However, when he bothered to get a job, he did well and was well liked. He was also very social and had a number of girlfriends.

    It’s a bit silly for all you armchair experts to believe that after all the defense psych experts that examined him and all the appellate attorneys that have represented him, that in over 24 years, they would not have raised a claim of mental retardation if he actually had one.

  17. When a child has no real support system in place, and has mental issues on top of this, the result can be devastating.
    I can tell you first hand, as a jewish woman who when growing up actually spent time in a school for children who came from dysfunctional and abused home lives..I am outraged that people can be so ignorant and heartless as to not even try understanding how an abusive upbringing whether mental or physical can have a serious impact on a human beings life!
    I first hand know the impact it had on my life not only as a teenager but as an adult.
    I never commited a crime, however, I know there is a fine line that every human being in this world walks…take any child and put them in a dysfunctional and potentily abusive home and I guarantee you that a percentage of these children will wind up commiting crimes!
    So before anyone makes ridiculous comments such as all murderers had a bad upbringing.stop and think with your heart! And by all means at least try using some common sense.
    The system failed for Martin and as a result a serious crime was committed!

  18. no offense intended here, but who CARES what florida law states?! this is a person’s life we’re talking about, a Jewish life.

    In that al pi din a) a Noachide (secular) court does not have jurisdiction over a yehudi, b) a Noachide (secular) court does not have authority to impose misa on a yehudi, c) without 2 witnesses who provided warning beforehand there is no death penalty and d) a yehudi is not chayiv misa under any circumstance for rotzeach of a nochri — even in Beis Din.

    And therefore, as a result of the above, every yehudi has a legal obligation of pikuach nefesh in saving this yehudi.

    Comment by volvie — February 14, 2010 @ 6:59 pm

    if you don’t want to call or email or sign a petition, DON’T. but just know and understand that you are over on lo ta’amod al dam re’echa, ve’ahavta lereecha kamocha, missing out on the unbelievable mitzvah of pidyon shivuyim, and need a serious hashkafa makeover.

    there are many arguments in his favor, but is it really necessary to list them? i hold it’s not, simply because it is not our place or responsibility to judge or decide. torah and halacha is here to guide us. because sometimes and usually, our minds are simply too small.