Pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland spoke to police about fatally shooting a robber inside an Oklahoma City drugstore in a way that “made him sound like a hero,” but the evidence will show he is not, a prosecutor told a jury Friday.
For his opening statement, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater re-enacted in front of jurors what he said they will see on recordings from security cameras at Reliable Discount Pharmacy.
“Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Prater said as he pointed at the courtroom floor and told jurors the pharmacist stood over a wounded, unmoving robber and shot him five more times.
“He was not a hero. He was a murderer,” Prater said.
The district attorney said what Ersland told police does not match the recordings. He said the pharmacist changed his account of what happened after the recordings became public. Prater also told jurors Ersland continuously has attempted to make up evidence, even faking having bullet fragments in his arm.
Ersland, 59, contends he acted in self-defense. Defense attorney Joe Reynolds told jurors Friday that Ersland is a law-abiding citizen who was honorably discharged from the Army and Air Force.
The defense attorney said the bottom line is that the pharmacist, after chasing another robber outside the store, came back inside 24 second later and still believed the robber there was a threat. He acknowledged to the jury that Ersland after the shooting has “said some things and acted in some ways that are far from ordinary.” The attorney suggested that was because of stress from surviving something “like this.”
The masked robber, Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, of Oklahoma City, died May 19, 2009, after being shot first in the head then, less than a minute later, five more times to the body. An armed accomplice, Jevontai “Daddy O” Ingram, then 14, was caught days after running from the pharmacy. He has pleaded guilty to first-
The first witness, pharmacy clerk Megan West, said she never heard Parker make any noise after he was shot the first time. She said earlier one of the robbers said to Ersland, “I'm going to shoot your ass.”
West, 24, and another employee, her mother, fled to a backroom after the robbers came in and did not see the shooting.
Ersland told police he shot Parker five more times before he chased the other robber away. He later said he shot Parker five more times after chasing the other robber away because Parker was cursing him and getting back up.
But West acknowledged Friday she heard “absolutely no voices” inside the pharmacy after Ersland fired the first time until Ersland called 911.
Under defense questioning, she acknowledged she considers Ersland a hero who saved her life.
Jurors Friday saw photos of Parker's body on the floor. Prosecutors put the photos into evidence to show Parker was on his back and boxes of socks had fallen from a shelf across an arm.
Ersland, who lives in Chickasha, could be sentenced to life in prison or life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.