Attorneys for an Oklahoma City pharmacist began work Friday on the appeal of his murder conviction, while some stunned supporters asked Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday to pardon him.
“We've already started,” lead attorney Irven Box said of the appeal, which will take months to complete.
Jerome Jay Ersland, 59, was jailed Thursday afternoon immediately after an emotional jury found him guilty of first-degree murder. Jurors chose a life term as punishment.
The pharmacist was convicted of murder for fatally shooting a masked robber, Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, inside Reliable Discount Pharmacy near closing time May 19, 2009.
Jurors had been given the options of finding Ersland guilty of first-degree manslaughter instead or of acquitting him entirely. The pharmacist claimed he acted in self-defense. He did not testify.
Debate over actions
The verdict shocked many and renewed a public debate over his actions. Hundreds commented online at NewsOK.com and other media Web sites.
“The man had a right to protect his life, other people in the pharmacy and his property,” wrote Philip Palmer, who lives in Wayne. “This is such a waste of taxpayers' time and money for the trial and now … to pay to keep him in prison.”
One of his trial attorneys, Joe Reynolds, visited Ersland in jail Friday. Before his conviction, the pharmacist had been free on $100,000 bail. He lived in Chickasha.
“They're not giving him his medicines. He wasn't good at all,” Box said.
Formal sentencing is set for July 11. Box said Friday he will ask Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott to reschedule the formal sentencing for as soon as possible.
The judge could suspend part or all of the life term. If he doesn't, Ersland will not be eligible for parole for more than 38 years.
After the verdict, some of the pharmacist's supporters created Facebook groups called Free Jerome Ersland and Pardon for Jerome Ersland.
The governor's office confirmed Fallin received constituent correspondence Friday about the pharmacist's case. Some asked for a pardon or commutation of the life term.
Any action by the governor on the case will not be soon.
“When convicted of a crime, an individual has the right to petition the Pardon and Parole Board to request his … sentence be commuted. If a majority of the board votes to recommend a commutation, that case then heads to the governor,” said Fallin's communications director, Alex Weintz.
“After conducting her own review that takes into account all the facts of the case, the governor may then decide either to grant or deny the commutation,” Weintz said.