A pharmacist alleged Friday the judge in his murder case cannot be trusted to perform judicial duties without bias because the judge had made racial slurs against Hispanics.
The pharmacist accused Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott of repeatedly calling Hispanics â€œwetbacks.â€ The pharmacist alleged the judge in August said â€œif they needed someone to hold a shotgun to their heads to get them back across the border he would be the first to volunteer.â€
The pharmacist alleged the judge in May told his female bailiff â€œyou need to hurry up and have 10 white babies because the Mexicans are going to catch up with us.â€
The pharmacist, Jerome Jay Ersland, called for Elliott to step down from his case â€œto protect the integrity of the courts.â€
The judge already has refused once to step down. The judge's refusal came Tuesday in a private meeting with defense attorneys and prosecutors. The judge now must reconsider the request, this time in a public hearing.
The pharmacist is not Hispanic. His attorneys, though, contend the judge's disdain for a particular group calls into question the judge's overall ability to be impartial.
â€œIf he's that biased about them, how the hell can he be fair about anything?â€ lead defense attorney Irven Box told The Oklahoman.
Defense attorneys Friday afternoon filed a 20-page legal brief outlining their accusations against the judge. They contended the judge has shown in other ways he can't be fair, such as getting legal research on criminal cases from his wife, an assistant district attorney.
District Attorney David Prater said the allegations are not relevant to the pharmacist's case. He said defense attorneys raised the issues only to delay the trial. He said prosecutors have been ready for trial since June.
â€œI just don't know what's true and what isn't, but â€¦ none of this has anything to do with the Ersland case,â€ Prater said. â€œFrankly, it looks like an attempt to blackmail the judge â€¦ into getting off the case.â€
The district attorney also said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled â€œa judge has the right to hold an opinion, just like any other human being.â€
Elliott declined Friday to comment. The former prosecutor has been a judge for almost 12 years and is known to have conservative views. Elliott stood in line last December in Norman to get Sarah Palin's autograph on the former vice presidential hopeful's memoir, â€œGoing Rogue.â€
Box and the judge have been friends. Until recently, Box's wife, a deputy court clerk, was assigned to the judge's courtroom.
The pharmacist's trial is set to begin 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 â€œSpeedyâ€ Parker, 16, of Oklahoma City.
Ersland, who lives in Chickasha, 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, unarmed robber who was no longer a threat.
Box disclosed in Friday's legal brief he personally heard some of the judge's remarks. He wrote that he approached the judge two weeks ago about the issues. Box wrote that the judge said â€œâ€˜Wetbacks' is just another word for illegal aliens and that he really didn't have anything against Mexicans, just illegal aliens.â€
Box also wrote the judge has often done mocking imitations of Hispanic laborers who have done work on the judge's properties.
Box suggested in the legal brief that the judge tried to head off the removal effort by ruling in his favor on two criminal cases involving a Hispanic defendant.
Box wrote that another defense attorney, who has raised campaign funds for the judge, showed up at his office to talk about the judge's ethnic comments. Box wrote that the attorney, Ron Wallace, told him not to worry about the Hispanic defendant's cases and that the judge would take care of it. He wrote Wallace later called from the judge's chambers and told him the cases were â€œtaken care of.â€
Elliott plans to meet with prosecutors and defense attorneys Monday to schedule a hearing on the defense request for him to step down.
If he refuses to quit the case at that hearing, the pharmacist can ask Oklahoma County's chief judge to remove Elliott. If the chief judges rules against removal, the pharmacist then can ask the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
The removal effort is likely to result in a delay in the trial.
Elliott took over Aug. 31 after the first trial judge, Tammy Bass-LeSure, took herself off the case because prosecutors said she couldn't be fair.