New attorney says former pharmacist convicted of murder may have mental condition
The new attorney for former pharmacist Jerome Ersland revealed Wednesday that Ersland may have Asperger's syndrome. The attorney is appealing Ersland's murder conviction for fatally shooting a wounded robber.
A former pharmacist convicted of murder may have a mental disorder that affected his judgment when he fatally shot a robber, his new attorney revealed Wednesday.
Videoview all videos
Oct 1Former pharmacist Jerome Ersland complained to the...
Jul 19Jerome Ersland may have a mental disorder that affected...
Apr 11The new attorney for an Oklahoma City pharmacist...
May 27View surveillance footage of a would-be Oklahoma City...
Photoview all 7 photos
NewsOK Related Articles
The attorney, Doug Friesen, said Jerome Jay Ersland may have Asperger's syndrome.
The syndrome is a kind of pervasive developmental disorder that is similar to high-functioning autism.
Ersland, 60, is serving a life term in prison for killing the wounded robber in 2009 inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City. His first-degree murder conviction last year renewed a public debate about his actions.
“When you're confronted with a very unusual, startling situation, the mind immediately goes into a fugue state ... where it is impossible ... to form any kind of conscious thoughts,” Friesen said of those with Asperger's syndrome.
He said if Ersland does have the disorder “it would have been impossible for him, during the time frame here, to form the necessary intent for a first-degree murder charge.”
Friesen is working on Ersland's appeal. He has until Aug. 8 to file a legal brief with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who prosecuted Ersland, said Wednesday evening the issue was explored by Ersland's trial attorneys.
At a news conference outside the pharmacy, Friesen told reporters he will contend in the appeal that Ersland did not get a fair trial because of mistakes by the trial attorneys.
Friesen specifically complained that lead trial attorney Irven Box never checked out the possibility “at all” that Ersland had Asperger's syndrome. The attorney told reporters that Box was told within a week of being hired there was a strong possibility Ersland had the disorder.
Ersland didn't testify
The new attorney also criticized Box for not letting Ersland testify in his own defense at the trial.
The attorney told reporters Ersland “has told me that he was told that he simply wasn't going to be allowed to testify, wasn't going to be allowed to tell his story and that was a decision made by trial counsel. Well, that's a decision that is always up to the client.”
See our commenting and posting policy.
News Photo Galleriesview all
- 10457Oklahoma tornadoes: Cost, custom keep basements scarce
- 9286Oklahoma tornadoes: Plaza Towers Elementary School teacher shoved students into bathroom as wall collapsed
- 5848Downtown wish list includes Super Target
- 4983Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 4420Oklahoma City pastor will face trial in fatal shooting of son-in law
- 4301Oklahoma tornadoes: Price family recovering after some heavy blows
- 4216How to help tornado victims