- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 25 (UPI) — The parents of two south Florida juveniles serving sentences for slayings after they were convicted as adults are asking Pope John Paul II for help.

Kathleen Grossett-Tate, the mother of Lionel Tate, and Polly Powell, mother of Nathaniel Brazill, will ask the pope Wednesday to campaign for better treatment of children charged with serious crimes.

They are among 34 people from across the United States who will meet at the Vatican to discuss teens who are serving time in prison for murder and other serious crimes.

"Twelve-year-olds should not have their hope taken away from them by being sentenced to spend the rest of their life in prison without the possibility of parole," Grossett-Tate said.

"We are going to ask the Vatican to help raise the awareness of Americans to what is going on in our country with our juvenile justice system," she said.

Her son, Lionel Tate, now 16, was convicted of the beating death in 1998 of 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick as he was pretending he was a wrestler on television. He has served almost two years of a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

Nathaniel Brazill, also 16, has served two years and nine months of a 28-year sentence. He was convicted of the shooting death of English teacher Barry Grunow at Lake Worth Middle School in 2000.

Attorneys for both boys are appealing, and Tate's attorney said he hopes Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will consider reviewing the case next month to determine if he should get a pardon.

Also among the group is the mother of Rebecca Falcon. She was sentenced to life for a murder actually committed by an accomplice when Falcon was 15.

Relatives of Ryan Mathews are also on the trip. Matthews is on Louisiana's death row for a murder when he was 17.

The father of Andy Williams of San Diego is making the visit to the Vatican. Williams was sentenced to prison for 50 years after he was convicted of slaying two high school classmates and wounding several others when he was 16.

"The visit is being led by the Rev. Thomas Masters, a pastor of New Macedonia Baptist Church in Riviera Beach and founder of "Under our Wings," an organization opposed to trying children as adults.

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