Defense attorneys for pharmacist Jerome Ersland today asked his newest judge to step down from presiding over his murder trial. District Judge Ray C. Elliott refused but defense attorneys plan to ask him again and put on witnesses to support their request.
Defense attorneys made their request in a private meeting with the judge and prosecutors, as is required under the law. The next step is for them to ask the judge again in a public hearing. If he refuses again, defense attorneys can ask Oklahoma County's chief judge to remove Elliott. If the chief judge refuses, they can ask the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Lead defense attorney Irven Box did not disclose to the media his reasons for asking the judge to step down. He did say he does not expect Ersland's murder trial to begin until next year. The trial is set for Dec. 6. Ersland, 59, was charged with first-degree murder after he shot a masked robber six times in May 2009 inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City. Killed was Antwun "Speedy" Parker, 16, of Oklahoma City. Ersland has said he acted to defend himself and two female employees. Prosecutors say he went too far when he fired the last five shots, in effect executing an unconscious robber who was no longer a threat. The judge was scheduled today to hear a defense request to remove District Attorney David Prater from prosecuting the case. That hearing was called off until it is determined what judge will preside over the trial. The first trial judge in the case, Tammy Bass-LeSure, took herself off the case Aug. 31 after prosecutors complained she couldn't be fair.
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