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Groups call on Crist to halt execution of man who killed wildlife officer in Pinellas

A coalition of death penalty opponents called on Gov. Charlie Crist on Friday to stop the scheduled execution of Martin E. Grossman, who killed Florida wildlife officer Peggy Park in Pinellas County in 1984.

Grossman is scheduled to be executed Tuesday. Park stopped Grossman and a friend in a rural section of northeastern Pinellas. After a struggle, he wrested away Park's .357 Magnum and shot her in the head.

Rabbi Menachem Katz, Grossman's spiritual advisor, said on Friday that the Death Row inmate has repeatedly told him "how terrible he feels that he took a life… he feels deep pain and sorrow on a daily basis."

None of the advocates who spoke in Fridays' telephone news conference argued that Grossman was innocent. But Benita Standly of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida called the death penalty "barbaric" and said it violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution barring cruel and unusual punishment.

Laura Moye of Amnesty International wanted to "express our deepest sympathies" to Park's family, but urged the state of Florida not to "imitate the crime it seeks to condemn."

Some who joined the telephone news conference said the death penalty was not an appropriate punishment because Grossman has told family members he never intended to kill Park. He was convicted of premeditated murder.

Ed Werner, head of a group called the "Committee to save Martin Grossman," said Crist was about to "spill Jewish blood" with Grossman's execution.

But in a response to a reporter's question, Abe Bonowitz, the former director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said: "No one is suggesting that Gov. Crist is an anti-Semite."

Groups call on Crist to halt execution of man who killed wildlife officer in Pinellas 02/12/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2010 4:01pm]

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