A judge ruled again Monday that pharmacist Jerome Ersland's murder trial will not be televised.
Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott on Sept. 1 barred TV cameras from the courtroom because of "a potential for there to be distortions of the proceedings." He stood by that decision Monday after hearing arguments from media attorneys.
The judge also ruled The Oklahoman cannot have a photographer inside the courtroom to take photos during the trial.
He said he will permit a TV cameraman and a newspaper photographer to record the reading of the verdict, if the trial ends that way. He also said he will move the trial to a larger courtroom if there is not enough room for spectators in his courtroom.
Jury selection is set to start Dec. 6.
Ersland, 58, is accused of going too far when he fatally shot an unarmed teenage robber last year inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in Oklahoma City. Ersland said he was defending himself and two female employees. The case has attracted widespread interest.
The original trial judge, Tammy Bass-LeSure, had ruled the trial could be
TV stations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, along with The Oklahoma Publishing Co., had agreed to share video from a single TV camera inside the courtroom. Most planned to show the trial live on their websites.
"Justice in this country is a public event," media attorney Robert Nelon argued Monday.
Ersland's attorneys supported televising the trial. District Attorney David Prater was against it.
The prosecutor raised several concerns. He said the TV camera would make witnesses more nervous. He also said the video coverage could lead to jury misconduct because jurors would be tempted to look on the Internet at night and re-watch testimony.
Elliott agreed to reconsider his camera ban because media attorneys were not present when he ruled Sept. 1.
Only a few trials in Oklahoma history have been televised. The most notable are the trials of murderer Roger Dale Stafford.
Also, victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing were able to watch closed-circuit telecasts of the Denver trials of bomber Timothy McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols.
Next up in the case is a hearing Nov. 9 on a defense request to disqualify Prater from being the prosecutor at trial.
Ersland's attorneys argue the district attorney has developed a personal emotional stake in the trial's outcome.
"Both Mr. Ersland and the public have a right to a prosecutor who is guided by principles of justice and an appropriate ethical compass, not one blinded by the media spotlight and his own animosity," defense attorneys wrote Oct. 1.
In a written response Monday, prosecutors told the judge that lead defense attorney Irven Box is the one making acerbic or personal remarks about the district attorney. Prosecutors wrote defense attorneys are the ones engaging in name calling and schoolyard taunting. Prosecutors asked the judge to deny the request.