A pharmacist charged with murder for fatally shooting a robber wants a different judge to preside over his trial.
His defense attorneys on Tuesday asked Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott to step down from the case.
The defense effort could result in another delay in the trial for the pharmacist, Jerome Jay Ersland, 59, of Chickasha. The jury trial is now set to begin Dec. 6.
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.
Defense attorneys made their request for Elliott to step down in a closed-door meeting with the judge and prosecutors, as is required by law. Ersland waited in the courtroom.
The judge refused during the 15-minute private meeting to step down. Elliott ruled nothing raised by defense attorneys warranted his recusal. The next step is for defense attorneys to ask the judge again, this time in a public hearing.
"The procedure is — to be fair to the judge and not to embarrass the court — we go into his chambers, shut the door, ask him, 'Judge, we want you off. Here's why we want you off,'" lead defense attorney Irven Box said. "The only way we go to Step Two is if he says, 'No,' at the first hearing."
The judge is expected to have the second, public hearing on the recusal request next week.
Box would not disclose to news reporters why he wants the judge, who has been a longtime friend, off the case. "We expect to call several witnesses," Box said.
Prosecutors want the judge to stay on the case. They said they could not, by law, comment yet on the defense effort.
Defense attorneys apparently have several issues with the judge, including remarks he has made about illegal immigration. Also, the judge's wife, Sandra Elliott, is a longtime assistant district attorney.
If Elliott again refuses to step down, defense attorneys can ask Oklahoma County's chief judge to remove him. The chief judge is a rotating position that will change several times before the end of the year.
If the chief judge refuses, defense attorneys then can ask the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
Ersland 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 to have ruled Tuesday on a defense request to bar District Attorney David Prater from prosecuting the case. That hearing was postponed.