Jerome Ersland's journey from perceived hero to murder defendant to inmate to free man hit a roadblock with the upholding of his conviction. The former pharmacist, who stopped a robbery by shooting a perpetrator and then executing him, must now await further legal appeals — or an early exit from prison via the pardon and parole process.
A jury concurred with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater that Ersland crossed a line in killing Antwun Parker, 16, in 2009. Ersland's supporters have termed the conviction a travesty. They petitioned the governor's office for a pardon. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals said Thursday that Ersland has no grounds for reversing his conviction.
Thus, Ersland's confinement and martyr status will continue, indefinitely. He's no hero and Prater was no goat for charging him with first-degree murder. The jury heard all the evidence and made the courageous and somewhat unexpected decision to convict him. The case drew national attention because a cursory examination of the facts seemed to show that Ersland was defending himself and co-workers when Parker and another man entered the pharmacy with the intent to rob it.
Parker was unarmed. Ersland felled him with a bullet and later got another weapon and executed him. This crossed a line, and Ersland sealed his own fate by assuming that no jury would convict him of first-degree murder. A key issue in the appeal was Ersland's claim that his chief trial attorney was incompetent.
This is passing strange given the defendant's lack of judgment and tendency toward exaggeration and prevarication. We respect the ability of his jury to weigh the facts and come to the proper conclusion and the wisdom of the appellate court justices in rejecting Ersland's specious claims.
More and more it appears Ersland will spend the rest of his life behind bars as a result of his own bad decisions.