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Judge in OKC pharmacist's case to announce ruling Monday

Defense attorneys want District Judge Ray C. Elliott to step down in the murder trial of pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland, who is accused of killing Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, of Oklahoma City, during a robbery at Reliable Discount Pharmacy.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Modified: December 8, 2010 at 6:30 am •  Published: December 8, 2010

An Oklahoma County judge said Tuesday he regretted describing his roofers as “wetbacks” in a moment of anger at the courthouse, but he denied making other racial statements attributed to him.

District Judge Ray C. Elliott also denied giving advice to anyone on how to win a trial and he denied that he and his wife, a prosecutor, ever talk about his cases.

Elliott, 59, spoke at the end of a two-day public hearing on a defense request for him to let another judge take over a pharmacist's murder trial. Elliott said he will announce his decision at 9 a.m. Monday.

The judge already has refused to step aside once before, when defense attorneys complained to him Nov. 9 at a private hearing. Defense attorneys can appeal if he rules against them again.

The pharmacist, Jerome Jay Ersland, is white. Defense attorneys say the judge this year became almost obsessed against Hispanics — so much so that he can't be trusted to be fair to any defendant.

Defense attorneys also complain the judge, before taking over the case, advised lead defense attorney Irven Box on what to say at closing arguments to win the pharmacist's trial. And, they complain the judge improperly gets legal research from his wife.

Prosecutors counter that Irven Box, 70, is making the allegations to delay the trial and because the judge once criticized Box's wife, Isla, for mistakes at her job. Isla Box, 31, worked until September as a deputy court clerk in the judge's courtroom.

The judge suggested Tuesday that Irven Box really wants him to step aside because he refused to allow the trial to be televised.

The judge Monday admitted describing his roofers as “wetbacks.” The judge said Tuesday he only used that word once, after dealing for three to four weeks with damage roofers caused to his property. He added that a general contractor told him the roofers were “illegal immigrants.”

The judge used the word Aug. 30 during a conversation with his staff in his offices at the courthouse, according to testimony. He was loud enough that he was heard by a deputy court clerk in another judge's offices.

Elliott said Tuesday, “None of the other statements attributed to me were said by this court, period.”

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