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Oklahoma City pharmacist Jerome Ersland gets life; judge refuses to suspend any prison time

Pharmacist Jerome Ersland calls the outcome of his case an “injustice of a monumental proportion.”
BY NOLAN CLAY and BRANDON GOODWIN Published: July 12, 2011

A judge Monday refused to cut any time off the life term of a pharmacist convicted of murder for fatally shooting a robber.

“It's injustice of a monumental proportion,” Jerome Jay Ersland, 59, said after his formal sentencing.

His lead defense attorney, Irven Box, asked that Ersland be given probation for life. Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott refused, saying he saw no reason to suspend any of the sentence.

“I'm going to appeal,” Ersland told a large throng of news reporters and cameramen as sheriff's deputies led him in chains to a jail elevator.

The judge's decision means Ersland likely will die in prison unless he wins on appeal, the law is changed or a governor grants clemency. Under current law, Ersland will have to serve more than 38 years before he is eligible for parole.

Box called the jury verdict a tragedy. He said the outcome “more than likely” would have been different if jurors could have heard witnesses and testimony disallowed by the judge.

“We really strongly believe that we didn't play on a level playing field,” he said. “We believe that we have a lot … of issues to appeal from.”

A jury in May chose the life term as punishment. Ersland was convicted of first-degree murder for fatally shooting an unarmed robber inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City two years ago.

Prosecutors said the fallen robber, Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, was unconscious from a shot to the head when Ersland got a second gun and shot him five more times. Prosecutors at trial called the final shots an execution. Ersland said he was defending himself and two female co-workers. He claimed the masked robber was getting back up.

A second robber, Jevontai Ingram, had fled already. Ingram, then 14, did have a gun.

2 other men sentenced

Also Monday, another judge sentenced the two men who planned the drugstore robbery. Both were convicted in May of first-degree murder for Parker's death.

Anthony D. “Black” Morrison was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years for his role. Emanuel D. “E Man” Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison plus 45 years for his role. Both have been in prison for robberies before.

Morrison, 45, and Mitchell, 33, sent the two teenagers in to the pharmacy to rob it of drugs and money, according to testimony at their trial. The two are cousins.

District Judge Kenneth Watson refused to show them any leniency. He criticized Morrison for sending “kids” in to do the robbery “rather than step up and be a man and do it yourself.”

Mitchell on Monday continued to deny involvement in the robbery, even though he was caught near a stolen getaway car a few blocks from the pharmacy.

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