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Oklahoma City pharmacist shootings: Judge promised trainer no prison time, sources say

New accusation surfaces after judge steps down from Oklahoma City pharmacist's murder case.
BY RANDY ELLIS and NOLAN CLAY Modified: September 2, 2010 at 7:47 am •  Published: September 2, 2010

Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure told her personal trainer in private that she would not sentence him to prison if he would plead before her to a pending drug charge, sources have told The Oklahoman.

The judge was not in her office Wednesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment. She has been a district judge almost 12 years.

Private conversations between Bass-LeSure and personal trainer Colton Taz Ama prompted prosecutors on Monday to ask Bass-LeSure to step down from presiding over the murder trial of Oklahoma City pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland. One of the conversations was secretly recorded.

The judge complied with the request after closed-door meetings Tuesday with prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Ama's drug case had been before Bass-LeSure but has been reassigned to another judge.

Under the Code of Judicial Conduct, judges are not supposed to offer legal advice to people with cases pending before them outside the presence of attorneys involved in the case.

Ama's attorney, Rick Rice, notified District Attorney David Prater of a possible violation of that code by Bass-LeSure. The attorney acted after the trainer informed him of a conversation with the judge at a local gym.

"While I can't comment on my client's case or any of the specific facts about the case, the only thing I can confirm is that I notified the district attorney's office several months ago of a concern that I had when it was brought to my attention by my client, as any other attorney would do," Rice said.

"This is not a situation that I put my client in or I put the judge in. I merely reported what I felt my ethical obligation was under the rules of ethics and the code of conduct that attorneys have."

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Ersland trial set for Dec. 6

An Oklahoma City pharmacist's murder trial has been reset to Dec. 6.

At a hearing Wednesday, Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott postponed the trial and ruled it will not be televised. The trial was set for Sept. 13.

Jerome Jay Ersland, 58, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal 2009 shooting of a masked robber.


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