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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

/articleid/3584676/1/pictures/1463079">Photo - Pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland is led from the courtroom Monday after a judge ordered him to serve all of his life term.
Pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland is led from the courtroom Monday after a judge ordered him to serve all of his life term. PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND - PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND

“There is no way I should be forced to live with this wrongful conviction,” he told Watson. “I leave vengeance up to God on this whole situation.”

Ingram, now 16, pleaded guilty in 2010 to first-degree murder. He has been at a juvenile detention facility.

Verdict stirred debate

The outcome of Ersland's trial renewed a public debate over the pharmacist's actions. There was widespread criticism of the jury. District Attorney David Prater on Monday praised jurors for their seriousness, saying they — not the critics — heard all the evidence.

“They said the rule of law … matters,” Prater told Elliott. “No one is above it.”

More than 17,000 people signed petitions calling the Ersland verdict an outrage. The pharmacist's oldest son and his key supporters delivered the petitions to the governor's office last week. Supporters say they hope Gov. Mary Fallin someday will pardon Ersland or commute his sentence.

Few supporters showed up Monday for his sentencing. Instead, the courtroom was filled with college students and news reporters.

Ersland was chained at his waist, hands and feet. He wore a back brace and a gray and white jail top and black and white jail pants.

“I have nothing to say. Thank you,” he told the judge.

The son, Jeff Ersland, told reporters afterward, “I guess I'm just trying to stay optimistic moving forward and hoping for the best.”

An appeal to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals will take at least 18 months, Box said. He said he feels strongly about the appeal.

The attorney was more pessimistic about Ersland's chance of getting the Pardon and Parole Board to recommend clemency to the governor. “I don't know,” he said. “It's politically motivated.”

Ersland's history

Ersland was known as a hard worker at the pharmacy and was well liked by most customers there. Twice divorced, he lived in Chickasha with a pet dog he named after Winston Churchill, the British leader during World War II.

He played music for a church in Chickasha and collected guns for a hobby. He served in both the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force and had never been arrested before the robbery.

The case revealed he also had a deceptive side. His first account of the shooting was contradicted by recordings from the drugstore's security cameras. His claim to police and others of being in combat in Iraq during the first Gulf War was contradicted by his military records.

His claim of having a broken inoperable back was contradicted by X-rays taken at the jail.


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