Leniency unlikely in Oklahoma City pharmacist's murder case

Oklahoma County jurors in May chose a life term as the punishment for pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland, 59, of Chickasha. Their only other option was a life term without the possibility of parole. Formal sentencing set for July 11.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Published: July 4, 2011

He said then he believes Elliott would give him a death sentence if the judge could.

“I don't have any faith in him at all,” Ersland said.

Ersland chose not to cooperate in the preparation of a presentence report ordered by the judge.

“Mr. Ersland refused to speak with this officer without his attorney present,” a Corrections Department employee wrote about a June 3 contact with Ersland in the jail. “Mr. Ersland's words were mumbled and inarticulate. He stepped away from this officer shaking his head.”

Ersland will not be eligible for parole for 38 years if ordered to serve the life term.

The pharmacist's supporters say they hope Gov. Mary Fallin eventually will free Ersland by commuting his life term or pardoning him.

Many have signed petitions that state “our Justice System has let us down.”

An organizer of the support effort, Karen Monahan, said she will take petitions signed by more than 20,000 people to the governor's office at noon Thursday.

Judge's ruling

Some Oklahoma County judges have cut time off life terms in murder cases. Last week, District Judge Jerry Bass ruled a Mustang man should go to prison for only 35 years of his life term.

Bass said he was showing mercy to Morgan Cline, 21, because of the young man's mental illness. “It takes a lot of courage as a judge to do that,” said Cline's attorney, John Coyle. “He has a terrific sense of justice. … It is unusual.”

A jury in May found Cline guilty of first-degree murder for fatally shooting his father in bed at the oilman's Oklahoma City home. Cline had sought to be acquitted on an insanity ground.

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