Jurors Monday took turns looking inside the small, south Oklahoma City drugstore where pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland fatally shot a masked robber two years ago.
Testimony resumes at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the pharmacist's murder trial.
The jury toured Reliable Discount Pharmacy for about 25 minutes Monday afternoon. Jurors went there after viewing security camera recordings of the shooting. Jurors earlier also watched a recording of Ersland's 30-minute interview with an Oklahoma City police detective the night of the shooting.
“I did do just what I had to do,” Ersland told the police detective. “It's not a deal where you have a big choice.”
The detective, David Jacobson, told jurors Ersland gave many details about the shooting that were not true. The detective testified Ersland also lied when he said he had killed “a lot of people” during the first Gulf War. The detective testified the pharmacist's military records show he was never in combat.
Visits to death scenes are rare in murder trials. The jury arrived in an Oklahoma County sheriff's bus normally used to take convicts to prison.
Jurors went inside the drugstore in groups because of its size. Jurors did not hear any testimony during their visit.
“Oh, wow,” one female juror said.
“Small,” another female juror said.
Visible inside the store was a jar for donations to Ersland's defense fund. The jar had money in it.
Jurors also walked to the north side of the pharmacy to see the corner where Ersland fired at a second robber who fled the store.
Ersland, 59, of Chickasha, is accused of going too far when he shot the wounded robber, Antwun “Speedy” Parker, five more times. His attorneys contend he bravely defended himself and two female co-workers.
Parker was 16.
The second robber, Jevontai Ingram, then 14, was arrested days later and has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for his role in the death.
Ersland was interviewed at the police department's homicide office about 10:30 p.m. May 19, 2009, almost five hours after the shooting. “Kind of a rough day,” Ersland said.
The detective said Ersland's account did not match what the security camera recordings showed.
The detective did not see the security camera recordings until after questioning Ersland.
Defense attorney Joe Reynolds suggested Ersland mixed up things because he was traumatized. Jacobson disagreed.
“He wanted to tell me about it,” Jacobson said. “It didn't seem like he was that upset about it, in my opinion.”
In the police interview, Ersland said both robbers had guns and both shot at him. He said he was able to get to two guns inside the pharmacy and fired back. He said he shot one robber but the wounded one stayed up and “was gonna hit me as I went by … so I just unloaded … on him and then he fell down and I chased the other guy out.”
Ersland also told the detective a getaway driver with a shotgun was parked in a white Oldsmobile outside the store around the corner. Ersland said he pointed a gun at the driver's head and the man took off.
The detective told jurors the police investigation determined only Ingram had a gun and only the pharmacist fired any shots. The detective also testified Ersland shot Parker five more times after chasing the second robber away, coming back to the store and getting a second gun from a drawer.
The detective said the security camera recordings show the pharmacist had to “walk just about over the top” of the fallen Parker to get the second gun. The detective said the pharmacist also “turned his back to him.”
The detective testified the investigation determined there was no getaway driver with a shotgun parked right outside the store. He said a witness who lives nearby did not see anyone. The witness testified earlier she was in her front yard.
In the police interview, Ersland told Jacobson he had PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, from being in the Gulf War. “Yeah, killed a lot of people there,” Ersland said. “But I had to do it. And then I dream about it every night.”
Another homicide detective, Ryan Porter, testified Ersland said he wore a back brace because of an artillery attack while he was in Iraq.
Records show Ersland spent the Gulf War in 1991 as the pharmacy chief at the military hospital at Altus Air Force Base in southwestern Oklahoma.