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Jurors begin deliberations in Oklahoma City pharmacist's murder trial

Jerome Jay Ersland, 59, faces life in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder. He did not testify.
BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: May 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm •  Published: May 25, 2011

A jury left the courtroom at 12:40 p.m. Thursday to begin deliberating whether an Oklahoma City pharmacist murdered a wounded robber two years ago or acted in self-defense.

Jerome Jay Ersland, 59, faces life in prison or life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of first-degree murder.

Jurors were instructed they could find Ersland guilty of first-degree manslaughter instead. The punishment for that offense is four years to life in prison.

Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott told jurors they probably will begin deliberations around noon Thursday after hearing closing arguments. “Come prepared to stay until we're finished,” the judge said Wednesday.

Prosecutors put on 17 witnesses over four days. Defense attorneys put on one witness, a pharmacy employee, and read a statement from another, a deputy chief medical examiner. Ersland did not testify.

Jurors also visited the south Oklahoma City pharmacy, saw security camera recordings of the shooting and watched Ersland's interview with a police detective.

Prosecutors say Ersland went too far when he shot a robber five more times inside Reliable Discount Pharmacy May 19, 2009. Prosecutors contend the robber, Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, was unconscious from a shot to the head. They contend Parker fell flat on his back and never moved after the first shot.

The pharmacist's defense attorneys contend he bravely defended himself and two female co-workers when two robbers came in the store.

Ersland chased away one robber, who was pointing a gun, according to the security camera recordings.

The final two prosecution witnesses, an Oklahoma City police sergeant who is a crime-scene reconstruction expert and a hired blood-spatter expert, concluded Parker was not moving when the pharmacist shot him five more times in the chest and abdomen.

Ersland, who lives in Chickasha, has insisted in media interviews that Parker was getting back up. The blood-spatter expert, Tom Bevel, testified Wednesday the blood pool on the floor underneath the robber's head showed no evidence of that or any other movement.

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