Copyright Â© 2010 The Oklahoman
Police suspected a pharmacist planted evidence inside the drugstore to bolster his claim he killed a masked robber in self-defense, reports show.
"I find it very suspicious,” Oklahoma County District David Prater said of the new evidence, a spent .22-caliber bullet shell casing.
The pharmacist, Jerome Ersland, 58, is charged with first-degree murder in a case that touched off a nationwide controversy. His trial is set in June.
A security guard reported finding the shell casing in July under a bookcase in a drugstore office. Police detectives asked the guard repeatedly if Ersland could have planted the casing for him to find.
"It’s humanly possible,” guard Charles Perkins said, according to police reports on his interview.
Ersland fatally shot the robber, Antwun Parker, on May 19 inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City while another robber fled. Prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder after reviewing a security camera recording of the robbery.
The discovery of the shell casing brings back up a key dispute in the case: Did the robbers shoot at the pharmacist? The casing could not have come from Ersland’s two guns.
Ersland told police he fired in self-defense because both robbers shot at him. He contends one bullet hit his wrist, breaking his watch. He said he shot Parker again because Parker was getting up after suffering a head wound.
Prosecutors contend Ersland was the only one who fired any shots. Prosecutors also say only one robber, Jevontai Ingram, was armed but Ingram did not shoot. Ingram’s gun was never recovered.
"We’ve reviewed the video and it doesn’t appear that the weapon was ever shot and there were not any bullet defects in the pharmacy from the suspect’s weapon,” Prater said.
Ingram, now 15, has pleaded guilty to first- degree murder for his role in the robbery. He has testified he did not fire the gun.
Ersland is charged with first-degree murder because prosecutors allege the pharmacist went too far. They allege he intentionally shot Parker five more times in the abdomen after knocking Parker down and unconscious with a shot to the head. Prosecutors contend Parker was still on his back on the floor when he was killed.