Even before the Seminole Heights case, the debate over the death penalty has been an ongoing one in Florida for quite some time.
The last day of November marks the annual International Day of Cities for Life protests to put an end the death penalty.
Pushing in that fight for Florida are parents Andy and Kate Grosmaire. Their daughter, Ann, was shot and killed by her boyfriend Conor McBride after an argument.
It happened March 28, 2010. Ann was 19. She and McBride were dating for three years.
Charged with first-degree murder, McBride could have received the death penalty, but Grosmaire’s parents plead with the state attorney to lessen his charge.
“Instead of turning to anger and bitterness, we forgave him for that," said mom Kate. "We worked with the state attorney to send him to prison for life."
Their appeal got him 20 years in prison instead, with 10 years probation.
“We worked through a process called restorative justice," she said. "We were able to sit down in a room and share with him what our daughter’s loss meant to us and he was able to tell us the details of what happened that night.”
By choosing to forgive their daughter’s killer, they’ve joined the national movement to end the death penalty. The Cities for Life event for the Tampa Bay Area was held at St. Cecelia Church in Clearwater on Thursday.
While it’s a moral issue for some supporters, for others its more about cost and racial inequality. Research claiming the cost of millions to taxpayers was provided by the group Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
The Grosmaires say the better alternative is life without parole. The death penalty won’t bring their daughter back or give her justice. Turning their pain into purpose, they hope their story will help others.
“To this day I still miss my daughter," father Andy said." Holidays are particularly very hard for us because one of our children is always missing at the table. It’s a grieving process.
"It’s not that we forget our loved ones but through forgiveness we are no longer tied to the person who has caused us so much harm."
In June. Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala made headlines for refusing to seek the death penalty in capital murder cases. In a news conference, she said the death penalty led to "chaos, uncertainty and turmoil" and "traps many victims, families in a decades-long cycle of uncertainty."
Gov. Rick Scott ended up reassigning her cases, a move upheld by Florida’s Supreme Court.