Tallahassee: A man who shot and killed a doctor outside a Florida abortion clinic in 1993 should not be released from prison for 25 more years, Florida’s parole board has decided.
The state’s Commission on Offender Review set a March 9, 2043, release date for Michael Griffin, who was convicted of shooting Dr. David Gunn three times in the back on March 10, 1993, as Gunn arrived to work at an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida.
Griffin, who turned 56 on September 11, is serving a life sentence at Blackwater River Correctional Facility in Milton.
He was convicted of first-degree murder in 1994. The commission was required to consider Griffin’s release date because of the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing of 25 years, but was not meeting to decide whether he should be paroled now.
The commission also voted not to consider Griffin’s case again until July 2024, the maximum time it can set. A state investigator had recommended a presumptive release date of April 9, 2018.
Gunn’s murder marked the beginning of a wave of deadly anti-abortion violence. The shooting followed clinic bombings and regular anti-abortion protests in Pensacola.
Gunn’s son and daughter testified against Griffin’s release, noting that he has not apologised or shown remorse.
They also cited a 2010 interview Griffin gave to “60 Minutes Australia” where he said “the only people who should be in fear and terror are the abortion doctors. They’ve got to have a reckoning one day with God.”
“They saw the evidence that was provided and the interview, demonstrating he can be a clear and present danger.
We are absolutely pleased with the sentence handed down,” said David Gunn Jr. after the hearing.
He said this should set a precedent for other cases.
“I certainly hope it will send a message that it will be taken seriously. Every killer that has taken the same action that he took has cited him as an influence,” he said. “It is and has been a very influential case. Unfortunately it is the wrong kind of influence.”
Griffin was not present at the hearing.
Griffin’s mother, Lillian Ferreira, and another supporter were supposed to attend the hearing but sent letters asking for an earlier release.
Ferreira wrote that her son assisted lawyers representing the Gunn family during the settlement of a lawsuit against anti-abortion activist John Burt in 1996. She also pointed out that Griffin cooperated with the FBI concerning the security of abortion clinics and he assisted in the investigation of an Alabama clinic bombing.
At the time of his death, Gunn was one of the few doctors performing abortions in the South, working at clinics in Montgomery, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia, when he wasn’t in Pensacola. He commuted to work from his home in Eufaula, Alabama, near the Georgia state line.