The Martin Grossman Story and the Effort to Save His Life

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martin-grossmanBy Rabbi Kalman Packouz

What is the value of a life? We know that the Torah tells us that we are “created in the image of the Almighty” and therefore each of us has intrinsic worth. We also know that the Torah tells us that there are 3 mitzvos (commandments) which one must give up his life rather than transgress even under duress — one of which is “Thou shall not murder.” (The other 2 are: “Not to engage in Forbidden Relationships” and “Not to Worship Idols.”) The Talmud explains the reason — “Who is to say that his blood (the murderer’s) is redder than the victim’s blood?” This means “Who can measure which human being is more valued in the ‘Eyes’ of the Almighty?”

What if that life is the life of a 46 year old murderer who killed a police woman? Would it make a difference if that murderer did not kill in a premeditated act, has an IQ of 77, deep psychological problems — and killed while in a drug-induced state as a teenager?

Does the Torah sanction the death penalty? Definitely “yes”. However, the stringencies in evidence are such that the Talmud tells us that “A court which executes someone once in 7 years is called a ‘killer court.’ There is a dissenting opinion that “A court which executes someone once in SEVENTY years is called a ‘killer court’ (Makkos 1:10). The Torah is concerned with protecting lives and society.

The talmud teaches us that “To save one life is as if you have saved the whole world” (Sanhedrin 37a). For this reason, I am sharing with you the following information and calling upon you to help save the life of Martin Grossman. For 25 years Martin has sat on death row because no Florida governor felt it appropriate to sign the order to carry out his death penalty. Recently Governor Charlie Crist chose to sign the order. The goal is to stop the execution called for February 16th and to call for a proper clemency hearing to determine if the Death Penalty is truly appropriate in this case and to ask for a sentence of life in prison without parole.

I have consulted with Rabbi Menachem Katz, director of the Aleph Institute which tends to the needs of Jewish prisoners world-wide. He is spear-heading this effort and has verified the authenticity of the facts and the situation.

This may not be easy for you to go out of your way to try and save the life of someone who took someone else’s life, but we must do what is just and right and what the Torah teaches us is correct. Prominent Rabbis have ruled that every Jew has the responsibility to save this man’s life.

There is no question that Martin Grossman committed a grievous and violent act, robbing Margaret Parks of her life and her future as well as robbing her family of their beloved daughter and sister and the future they hoped for her. Rabbi Katz has counseled Martin and provided spiritual guidance to him over the course of the last 25 years, he knows without any doubt that Martin takes full responsibility for this awful deed and that he lives (as he should) with tremendous daily guilt and remorse. He often speaks of the anguish and devastation he has wreaked on Ms. Park’s family and of his inability to do anything to relieve their sorrow or make amends.

There are many unusual circumstances in Martin Grossman’s case. They are detailed on the petition website at: .

Please go to the website, inform yourself so that you feel that you understand the situation and circumstances … and then please sign the petition. Also, please email a request to Gov. Charlie Crist ([email protected]) — or write him at: Office of the Governor, The Capitol, 400 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399 — to stop the execution called for February 16th and to call for a proper clemency hearing to determine if the Death Penalty is truly appropriate in this case. If you have any questions or can offer help, please contact Rabbi Menachem Katz — [email protected] or call him at 305-864-5553.

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  1. Rabbi Kalman Packouz makes a very poor argument by misquoting, misinterpreting and omitting full disclosure of the sources he has quoted. It is apparent he has little understanding of the dynamics of making a case that a Jewish death row inmate should be saved by gubernatorial intervention. The best, and perhaps the only thorough review of this subject Al Pi Torah is found at the end of Sefer Nachal Chaim:

    If indeed a case can be made that according to Florida law and guidelines of punishment Martin Grossman is entitled to the relief sought, that would be another story. The issues are too complex for a mere comment.

    If all the circumstances mentioned by Rabbi Kalman Packouz were the same except that the murderer was a non-Jew and the victim was a Jew, I am certain he would not be advocating for the murderer. He might even be from among those protesting the advocates and demanding that justice be carried out!

    Get hold of Sefer Nachal Chaim and read the Halacha L’Maaseh piece entitled (translated from the Hebrew): Is There An Obligation or a Mitzva to Make Efforts to The Government to Save the Life of a Jew Who Received the Death Penalty for Murder.

  2. Whether the prisoner is Jewish or not is not what I am concerned about. If a non Jew committed a similar crime in a drug induced state, not premeditated and now 25 years later realizes the severity of what he did and is truly penitent, I would also feel that he does not deserve the death penalty, but, that he has served his time and should be freed. I feel that such a person can be completely rehabilitated and returned to society, otherwise, what was the point of such a long imprinsonment, if not rehabilitation?

  3. This article is 100% correct.

    Al pi halacha, Jews are subject to halacha NOT secular law. Period. And halachicly a nochri IS treated much differently than a yehudi, for even the same crime.

    We as Yidden MUST protect the lives of Yidden, who are not subject, al pi halacha, to a punishment not prescribed by halacha.

    This is a matter of Pikuach Nefesh.

  4. maybe its time for frum jews to reeximine their infatuation with the neocons and the gop and stop demanding the death penalty so much because you surely get what you ask for.

  5. Rav Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss and the Skulener Rebbe have both written a letter that people should sign the petition an do what they can so he should not get the death penalty. it doesn’t mean he should go free. he may belong in jail, but he should not be killed.

  6. Life in prison without parole is tantamount to a death sentence.
    I agree with commenter #5, he has served 25 years, he regrets what he did, he should be freed.

  7. Rifka, of course he regrets what he did. Who wouldn’t, especially if it meant dying by lethal injection? Do you think every criminal, no matter how heinous the crime, should be released after 25 years? If that was the case, if everyone who served that time and regretted the crime (or said they did) was released into society, would you be happy?

    I’d say that getting beaten on the head 30 times with a heavy flashlight and then shot in the head when you’re 26 years old is even closer to a death sentence than life in prison without parole.

  8. I have already written to Gov. Crist and urge everyone else to do so. The Torah says “Lo Saamod al Dam Raecha” A Jew is obligated to do everthing in his power to save the life of another Jew. Especially in this case. The crime occured 25 years ago when he was a teenager and high on drugs. Nobody will gain by giving him a death sentence G-d forbid.

  9. The jury found Grossman guilty of premeditated first degree murder with special circumstances. The conviction has been reviewed and upheld by numerous appellate courts. It’s offensive for people who never heard the facts and do not know the law to claim it was not premeditated murder.

    Grossman tried beating Officer Park to death — 20-30 times he struck her. When that didn’t work, he took her gun and shot her point blank in the head.

    When Grossman was detained by Officer Park, she took his illegal firearm, obtained during a home burglary, his van keys, and his driver’s license. Grossman had the presence of mine to retrieve his handgun, keys, and driver’s license off the Officer’s body and from inside her truck, and her handgun before he left the murder scene. He buried the two handguns and attempted to burn his clothes and shoes which were covered in Officer Park’s blood. When they didn’t completely burn, he dumped them in a lake. He cleaned his van and changed its tires. He then went around bragging to his friends about murdering Officer Park.

    So, please don’t try to tell me he was too zonked on drugs or his IQ is so low that he didn’t know what he was doing. His actions tell us otherwise.

  10. Read this and ask yourself if anything less than death penalty is appropriate:

    The Crime: Grossman was 19 years old when he and a friend went to a wooded area in Pinellas County on Dec. 13, 1984 to shoot a stolen handgun. Florida Wildlife Officer Margaret Park interrupted them and Grossman pleaded with her not to report him for having the gun and being outside Pasco County, both of which were violations of his probation for burglery.
    Grossman struck Park on the back of the head when she tried to radio for help and his accomplice beat her. Grossman, who was a foot taller and 100 pounds heavier than Park, wrestled her gun away from her and shot her in the back of the head.

  11. I just left a comment that does not agree with the premise of sparing Grossman’s life.

    Did the moderator allow this information to be presented?

    If not, pay attention to that. If moderator failed to permit this information to be presented, that is a full admission that the moderator knows that he or she has no case when it comes to preventing the execution.

  12. As citizens of America, we need to hold ourselves to the standard of US law. To try to save Mr. Grossman *because* he is Jewish is a terrible chillul Ha’Shem. It says to the world that we think our fellow Jews are above the law. It says that we can’t admit when one of our own is a disgusting human being who needs to be punished accordingly. It patently spits in the face of a system that has taken us in and provided us religious freedom.

    Mr. Grossman should be executed in accordance with the law. To the best of my knowledge he had a fair trial, and has been afforded due process under the law.

    We want our opinions to count for something on the world stage don’t we? How are people supposed to take the ‘Jewish Opinion’ seriously if Jews are so blinded by a hardline ‘Jews can do no wrong’ attitude that you are fighting for an exception BECAUSE he’s Jewish. That’s disgusting.

  13. Ben S.,

    I’m not advocating either way. But consider that it would be a worse chilul Hashem if Jews had an opportunity to prevent the execution and, instead, just stood back and did nothing.

    “Jews won’t stand up for one of their own?”

  14. I heard about this on a radio station in CT. They said “He had a terrible childhood and that was part of what led him to murder” Where was everyone then to save him? He was sober enough to know he was out of his parole area and was going back to prison. He has a better IQ than your saying read the poetry. What is the truth? Do you know?

  15. to all those who are against the petition it is time to start listening to our gedolim and not think you know better the gedolim clearly said LO SAAMOD AL DOM RAECHA YOU CAN SAVE HIS LIFE MAYBE WE SHOULD LEARN MORE TORAH AND START SEEING THINGS AS WHAT THE TORAH SAYS NOT WHAT I SAY

  16. Wrong is wrong, you can’t paint it any other color, what does the Torah have to say about it. I feel for the victim’s family pain and their surfuring, how can one truly get justice? The law of the land is in effect, the Law of the Torah is better and should be applied as well.
    Surly G~d knows all and may He be the Ultimate Judge. I hope this never happens to any of my children or family, put yourself in their shoes and then decide.
    My heart goes out to those of the victim. A good human being is gone, didn’t deserve to die as such, didn’t deserve to have her life shorten not at the hands of a Jew or anyone else, I have to leave it to our G~d may He see to it and make happen what needs to be justified.

  17. Martin Grossman shouldn’t be murdered by the state.

    This however has NOTHING to do with the fact that he is Jewish. Believing in god is not even a sign of morality.

  18. I am terribly sorry for the loss . It is a very tragic situation. Please understand that what
    Martin Grossman did was not premeditated. What the Governor of Florida is about to do, G-d
    forbid, and what the citizens of the state of Florida and our nation are about to do, G-d
    forbid, is premeditated murder. May heaven save us. Please do not add more darkness to what is
    already dark. You have a choice now to increase in light and to honor the memory . Please
    choose wisely and do not allow the murder of another fellow human being, who also happens to be
    the son and descendent of Avraham (Abraham), Yitzchak (Isaac) and Yakov (Jacob)! He is clearly
    remorseful and has returned to the heritage of his Fathers and Mothers and has been meeting
    with his Rabbi for over 15 years!
    Please do not allow another murder, G-d forbid!

  19. To number 3 (SG)
    If it was your own brother involved G-d forbid, would you be looking in seforim to see wherether there is an obligation or mitsva to save his life???


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