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Oklahoma County judge finds woman in contempt who was a potential juror at pharmacist's murder trial

A judge Friday ruled an Oklahoma City woman was untruthful when she was being considered for the jury at the murder trial of pharmacist Jerome Ersland. Detra M. James was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service at the public defender's office.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Published: June 4, 2011
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A judge Friday ruled an Oklahoma City woman was untruthful when she was being considered for the jury at a murder trial.

Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott found Detra M. James in direct contempt of court. He ordered her to complete 100 hours of community service at the public defender's office.

“Our system does not work when people are not honest,” the judge said. “This system must be protected so you have to be punished in some way.”

James was removed as a potential juror after defense attorneys discovered she had made comments about the case using Facebook on KFOR-TV's website. She was critical in November of pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland for shooting a wounded robber five more times.

In her comments, she wrote Ersland was wrong. She wrote, “Hell, yeah, he need to do some time!!! … It didn't make no sense!” She also wrote of the robber, “He didn't deserve to be shot like that.”

She told Elliott during jury selection in May that she had never expressed an opinion about the case. She insisted Friday that she just forgot she made those comments and would have been fair to the pharmacist if she had made the jury. “That's the honest God truth,” she said.

The judge said he did not believe she forgot making six comments over three days.

The judge did not jail James. She told him she was a single mother caring for two children. He warned her she will go to jail for 10 days if she does not complete the community service by Aug. 31.

A jury May 26 convicted Ersland of first-degree murder for killing the robber in 2009 at Reliable Discount Pharmacy.