Martin E. Grossman was executed Tuesday at 6:17 p.m. for the murder of Wildlife Officer Peggy Park, whom he shot and killed on December 13, 1984. Park had been on a routine patrol when she came across a parked van with Grossman and another man inside. Park found a handgun, which she seized along with both men’s drivers licenses. When she went to call the information in on her car’s radio, the other man began assaulting her with her flashlight. Park got her gun out, but Grossman wrestled the gun away and shot Park in the back of the head.
Death penalty advocates and those critical of the case implored Governor Crist to stay Grossman’s execution. Those arguing against the execution of Grossman pointed out that he had shown extensive remorse and that his cognitive health should have been taken into consideration. “It seems that in this case that the jury was not given any information at all about his mental health and that the defense didn’t present any expert mental health testimony about Mr. Grossman. So we don’t think the jury had an adequate picture of who they were judging,” said Laura Moy of Amnesty International.
Critics pointed out that a post-sentence examination of Grossman found that “Grossman had compromised intellectual functioning, probable brain dysfunction, and a developmental history characterized by profound and untreated complicated bereavement.” There was also evidence that Grossman’s IQ had been tested at 77. John Musca, a criminal defense attorney who handles cases throughout Florida, explained, “Florida is one of the few states that executes those deemed mentally ill.”
Others say the Grossman case exemplifies why the death penalty is a poor use of resources. “In the 25 years since Martin Grossman’s family turned him over to authorities, he has been alone in a tiny cell on death row, and a lot has happened. Florida taxpayers have spent over $1 billion on the death penalty program, while over 10,000 unsolved homicides have accumulated, said Mark Elliot, Executive Director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Such critics argue that the $50 million per year Florida spends on the death penalty could be used to hire more police officers.