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Forgiveness Helps Heal, Yes; But Even After Murder?

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?   

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.