Convicted murderer Jerome Jay Ersland was caught Sunday evening with contraband — a powerful pain reliever — after his son visited him in prison, corrections officials said.
The former pharmacist is serving a life sentence for fatally shooting a wounded, unarmed robber inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City in 2009. He is 61.
He is being held at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington. He was caught Sunday with two Fentanyl patches in a pants pocket, corrections officials reported.
His son, Jeff Ersland, admitted bringing in the patches, corrections officials also reported.
Jeff Ersland did not return phone calls for comment. Corrections officials are still investigating the incident. They are expected to send a report on the investigation to prosecutors who will decide whether to file a criminal charge against Jeff Ersland.
“I ... was about to escort offender Ersland, Jerome ... from the visiting room to the Mental Health unit,” Cpl. Link Logan wrote in an incident report. “I saw offender Ersland pick something up off a table and put it in his left front pocket. I asked offender Ersland what he put in his pocket and he said a candy bar.
“I had offender Ersland show me what was in his pocket and he gave me two transparent transdermal Fentanyl patches.”
The corporal reported he took the patches to the prison's medical area and was told there that “they were stronger than morphine.”
Son admits role
In a memo about the incident, Warden Michael K. Addison wrote that Jerome Ersland claimed he found the patches on a table.
The warden wrote he had a unit manager call the son, who “denied bringing anything in to his father.”
Jeff Ersland later “called back and admitted to staff he had brought in the patches,” the warden wrote. “He stated his father ... was experiencing some shoulder pain.”
Jerome Ersland's appeals attorney, Doug Friesen, said Thursday, “I know that he's been in a lot of pain but it would certainly be unfortunate — if in fact it turns out to be true — that his son, maybe out of a misguided sense of trying to help his dad, was smuggling contraband.”
Jerome Ersland could be disciplined after a hearing, Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said.
“You could be placed in a disciplinary unit for a period of time. You could lose privileges. You could have restrictions on the amount of canteen you can buy, things like that,” Massie said of the possible punishments.
Appeal is pending
A jury last year found Jerome Ersland guilty of first-degree murder for fatally shooting Antwun Parker, 16. Jurors rejected his self-defense claim. His appeal is pending at the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
Ersland's pharmacist license expired after he went to prison last year.
Ersland wore a back brace for years working as a pharmacist.
He was prescribed powerful morphine-based medicine, records show. He told the police and news media before his trial that he suffered from an inoperable back injury.
He specifically told police detectives that one of his vertebrae got fractured into thirds during an artillery attack in Iraq in the first Gulf War.
Military records showed he had been in Oklahoma — not in combat in Iraq — during the war in 1991. Also, X-rays taken in the Oklahoma County jail after his conviction showed none of his vertebrae were fractured.
Friesen said Jerome Ersland is not getting any pain medication in prison.
The attorney confirmed Jerome Ersland took a prescribed morphine derivative before being incarcerated after his conviction.
“He admits that his mind is a lot clearer now than it was up to the time of trial,” the attorney said. “He did not realize how much it was affecting him.”