Execution date set in death of Fla. wildlife officer

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist signed a death warrant Tuesday for the execution of a man convicted of killing a female state wildlife officer with her own gun in 1984.

Florida State Prison warden Steven Singer set Martin Grossman’s execution by lethal injection for Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. at the institution in Starke.

Grossman, 44, was convicted of shooting Wildlife Officer Margaret “Peggy” Park, 26, in a wooded area of Pinellas County.

It’s Grossman’s second death warrant. Then-Gov. Bob Martinez signed the first in 1990, but Grossman received a stay of execution from the Florida Supreme Court. Since then he has filed and lost several more appeals in state and federal courts.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal in 2007. The Florida Supreme Court rejected his latest 11 months ago.

Park confiscated a stolen handgun that Grossman, then 19, and another teen, Thayne Taylor, had been shooting in the woods. Grossman, who was on probation for a burglary, then pleaded with her not to turn him in for possessing a weapon and being outside Pasco County. Both were violations of his probation.

As Park picked up her radio microphone to call the sheriff’s office, Grossman beat her on the head and shoulders with her flashlight, prosecutors said. She also was beaten by Taylor.

The officer managed to draw her gun and fire a wild shot. Grossman, a foot taller at 6-4 and 100 pounds heavier at 220, wrestled the gun away from Park and shot her once in the back of her head.

A jury convicted Grossman of first-degree murder and unanimously recommended a death sentence. Taylor, who was 17 at the time, was convicted of third-degree murder and was released in community supervision after serving two years and 10 months of a seven-year prison term.