Oklahoma appeals court urged to reject former pharmacist's claims that attorneys were inept

Former pharmacist Jerome Ersland is serving a life term in prison. He was convicted last year of first-degree murder for fatally shooting a wounded robber.
by Nolan Clay Published: November 8, 2012
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The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is being asked to reject a former pharmacist's complaints about his lead trial attorney.

Jerome Jay Ersland, 61, claims he was convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 because attorney Irven Box made a series of mistakes.

Ersland is serving a life sentence for fatally shooting a wounded robber at a south Oklahoma City drugstore in 2009.

He is asking the appeals court to overturn his conviction on grounds Box was ineffective.

“It is all too easy to Monday morning quarterback months or years after the trial and attempt to pick apart defense counsel's trial strategy,” Assistant Attorney General Donald Self wrote in a response that argued all of Ersland's complaints have no merit.

“The defendant was represented by four experienced attorneys,” Self told the appeals court in a legal brief filed Oct. 31.

“Trial counsel faced an uphill battle considering the overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt ... The video recording of the shooting — along with the forensic evidence that showed the victim was never a threat to the defendant or anyone else after the victim was shot in the head — provided overwhelming evidence of the defendant's guilt.”

Ersland said at a hearing in 2010 he was “quite well pleased” with his defense attorneys and usually met with them once a week, Self also told the appeals court.

“It is not surprising that the defendant, like most defendants, is unhappy with his trial counsel after being convicted. That does not, however, show that trial counsel was ineffective,” Self argued.


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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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Background

What happened

In surveillance recordings admitted as evidence at trial, then-pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland can be seen shooting the unarmed robber, Antwun Parker, 16, in the head inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy. Ersland then chases away another robber, comes back inside the store, gets a second gun and shoots Parker five more times. Jurors at trial rejected his self-defense claim. Ersland's pharmacist license expired after he went to prison last year.

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