A judge Thursday ruled a pharmacist’s murder trial will be televised so the public can witness justice unfold in a case she says has "ignited passions” like no other case in the state. Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure said the trial can be televised once jury selection is complete. She also agreed a photographer from The Oklahoman can take photos from inside the courtroom during the trial. The pharmacist, Jerome Jay Ersland, 58, fatally shot robber Antwun "Speedy” Parker on May 19 at the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City. Parker was 16. Prosecutors charged Ersland with first-degree murder, alleging he went too far when he shot the unarmed robber five more times after knocking the robber unconscious with a shot to the head. Ersland said he was defending himself and two female employees from a masked robber who was still moving. He also has said he thought Parker had a gun. A second robber fled the drugstore and was apprehended later. Oklahoma City stations KWTV-9, KOCO-5, KFOR-4, OETA-13, KSBI-52 and KOKH-25 and Tulsa station KOTV-6 asked the judge for permission to televise the trial. The stations plan to use one "pool” camera. The Oklahoman asked for permission to take photos inside the courtroom and to access the television feed so the trial can be shown on its Web site, NewsOK.com. The judge approved the requests after Ersland told her, "I would be honored to have them here, yes.” Ersland lives in Chickasha and is free on $100,000 bail. District Attorney David Prater said he did not object to having cameras in the courtroom once jury selection is over. A different judge on Wednesday presided over Ersland’s preliminary hearing. At the hearing, that judge ruled the evidence against Ersland was sufficient for a trial. That one-day proceeding was not televised. Bass-LeSure said she consulted with other judges. She said some were for televising the trial while others were against it. She recalled that as a little girl she had watched the movie "To Kill a Mockingbird,” and it had changed her life. The movie is based on a famous novel about a rape trial in the South. The pharmacist’s lead defense attorney, Irven Box, predicted the outcome of the case will set important precedents about self-defense. "I wish every case was televised because I think the public should be aware,” he said. "I think the public’s going to be quite surprised by what goes on in this trial.” Prater said televising the trial "in this case … is probably appropriate” but would not be in every case. "I don’t want cameras in the courtroom to be just an everyday affair in the Oklahoma County Courthouse,” the prosecutor said. "I do think there is a bit of a disruption when that occurs. … It’s not because I want to hide any evidence. I’m just more concerned with interference with jurors and the sanctity of the courtroom.”
To read previous stories on the shootings, go to our continuing coverage page.
Trial to be set
Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure will meet Dec. 2 with prosecutors and defense attorneys to schedule a trial. She said the trial could be in June or August.