When a 19-year-old Tallahassee college student grabbed his father's shotgun, loaded it and killed his girlfriend after an argument, he was charged with first-degree murder. Normally in Florida, that would lead to a sentence of life in prison or even execution.
But nothing about the death of Ann Grosmaire at the hands of Conor McBride followed the usual script, in a story told Sunday in The New York Times Magazine.
Ann's parents, who had grown to love Conor and his parents during the students' three-year relationship, did not want the tragedy for both families to end in lifelong rage and bitterness. They embraced a concept called "restorative justice," in the hope that it would heal them, at least enough to get on with their lives.
But such a process had generally been applied to less-drastic crimes, such as burglary. Not murder. Could the two families persuade an ambitious prosecutor to show mercy to Conor, given the likely backlash from the public that could bring?