Former pharmacist Jerome Ersland loses appeal

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rejected former pharmacist's complaints about his murder trial but did order new trial for one of two felons accused of planning a drugstore robbery.
by Nolan Clay Modified: June 20, 2013 at 10:10 pm •  Published: June 20, 2013
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Former pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland has lost his first appeal of his murder conviction.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday unanimously rejected all of his complaints. Ersland will appeal next to Oklahoma City federal court.

Ersland, 61, is serving a life sentence for fatally shooting a teenage robber inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City on May 19, 2009. An Oklahoma County jury convicted him at a trial in 2011 of first-degree murder.

“Well, I guess the only shot then is federal court,” his appeals attorney, Doug Friesen, said. “I’m surprised … I still believe in the stuff I put down there … I think it’s a significantly longer shot now, significantly.”

The appeals court did reverse the first-degree murder conviction of one of the two longtime felons accused of planning the robbery.

In a 3-2 opinion, the appeals court on Thursday ordered a new trial for Emanuel D. “E Man” Mitchell, 35, because he was not allowed to represent himself. In a separate opinion, the appeals court upheld the first-degree murder conviction of his cousin, Anthony D. “Black” Morrison, 47.

The two men recruited Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, and Jevontai Ingram, then 14, to rob the drugstore, according to testimony at their trial. Morrison gave Ingram a gun and Mitchell waited outside in a stolen getaway car, according to the testimony.

Inside the drugstore, Ersland shot Parker in the head, knocking Parker to the floor. Surveillance videos show he then chased after a fleeing Ingram, came back inside the drugstore, got a second gun and shot Parker five more times.

The case sparked a national debate. Ersland claimed he was defending himself and two female co-workers, but prosecutors said he went too far.

The appeals court found the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the murder conviction.

“We conclude the physical and forensic evidence showed that, when Ersland returned to the pharmacy and shot Parker five times in the body, Parker was unarmed and unconscious but alive, and did not pose a threat to Ersland or anyone else in the pharmacy,” the judges wrote in the 39-page opinion.

“Evidence further showed that, in order to shoot Parker, Ersland stepped across Parker’s body, turned his back, went behind the counter, put down his empty revolver, opened a drawer, took out the Kel Tec, walked to where Parker lay on the floor, stood over him, and fired five shots almost straight down into Parker’s body, close together and in rapid succession. Ersland did not appear flustered or hurried, and acted in a deliberative manner,” they wrote.

Ersland’s chief complaint in his appeal was that his lead trial attorney, Irven Box, was inept and made mistakes that cost him a fair trial. The appeals court, though, wrote: “A painstaking review of the entire record shows that trial counsel zealously represented Ersland.”

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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