NORMAN — Convicted murderer Jerome Jay Ersland tried to look on the bright side of things Monday after pleading guilty to possession of contraband in prison.
“It was sure nice to get out of solitary,” he said as guards led him in chains from the Cleveland County courtroom.
Ersland, 62, is the former pharmacist who is serving a life sentence for fatally shooting an already wounded robber inside a south Oklahoma City drugstore in 2009.
His arrest in 2009 and murder conviction in 2011 touched off debates across the country over his actions. Thousands signed petitions after his trial calling the verdict an outrage.
His new felony conviction Monday is a blow to his hopes that a governor someday will pardon him or commute his sentence. “I think it will hurt his chances,” said his attorney, Doug Friesen.
Ersland was caught with the contraband, the powerful painkiller fentanyl, on Nov. 25, 2012, at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington. A corrections officer reported finding two fentanyl patches on Ersland after he finished a weekend visit inside the prison with his son.
Ersland admitted in paperwork filed Monday that he had possessed a fentanyl patch.
Ersland was sentenced Monday to serve two more years in prison — if he ever completes his life term.
He is not eligible for parole on his murder case, though, until 2049.
“It’s just a sad situation,” his attorney said.
The Court of Criminal Appeals last June upheld Ersland’s conviction for first-degree murder.
His attorney is working on a second appeal of Ersland’s murder conviction. Friesen said he plans to ask Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.
The attorney would not elaborate.
The attorney did explain why Ersland is in solitary confinement at the prison — saying it was for his own protection from inmates looking for revenge.
About the case
Ersland was the pharmacist on duty at Reliable Discount Pharmacy, 5900 S Pennsylvania Ave., when two robbers came in near closing time on May 19, 2009. He chased the one armed robber away and killed the second, unarmed robber.
Jurors at his trial agreed Ersland was in the wrong.
Prosecutors put on evidence that the second robber, Antwun Parker, 16, was unconscious and not moving on the floor from a head shot when Ersland got a second gun and fired five more shots into the boy’s body.
The key evidence against Ersland came from security cameras that recorded the shooting.
His pharmacist license expired after he went to prison in July 2011.
His son, Jeffrey Jay Ersland, 37, of Oklahoma City, pleaded no contest last year to a felony charge of bringing drugs into prison.
The son is on probation for two years.
He completed 25 hours of community service, paid $478.50 in court and other costs, and $960 in supervision fees, court records show.
A Corrections Department internal affairs agent reported the son admitted bringing in the patches.
The agent wrote the son “stated that he made a mistake and was scared and had done this because he wanted to help his dad because he is in so much pain.”
The son will not have a criminal conviction for the offense if he completes his probation successfully.
Jerome Ersland wore a back brace while working as a pharmacist and had prescriptions before going to prison for a powerful morphine-based medicine.