Jerome Ersland case has new twist

BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: February 21, 2010 at 12:15 pm •  Published: February 21, 2010

Copyright © 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.


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Bullet holes?

A Web site about a pharmacist and his murder case has photos, one of which is seen above, that purport to show bullet holes in the pharmacy wall caused by the robbers’ gun. The pharmacist, Jerome Ersland, is listed as the administrative contact for the site, www.jeromeersland.com. Prosecutors say only one robber had a gun and it was not fired inside the pharmacy. Prosecutors said police investigators determined holes in the walls were old holes made by nails or screws. Defense attorney Irven Box said he will have experts look at the photographs.

Police interview excerpt

Here is an excerpt from Oklahoma City police Detective David Jacobson’s report on his interview in July with security guard Charles Perkins:

"I asked Perkins how he thought the shell casing got under the bookcase. Perkins said, ‘I have no idea.’ I explained to him that the whole pharmacy had been searched, photographed and processed by CSI officers that night. I explained we just wanted to know how this shell casing was located now. Perkins asked if anyone looked under the bookcase the night of the incident. I told him CSI officers had been in that room looking for evidence. Perkins then said, ‘Well maybe it was put under there on purpose.’ I told Perkins that was what we were trying to figure out. Perkins said, ‘Maybe he (Ersland) put it under there.’ Ersland talked about shell casings every day. I asked Perkins if he thought Ersland put the shell casing under the bookcase for him to find. Perkins said, ‘It’s humanly possible.’”

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