Oklahoma County judge in pharmacist's murder case says no to courtroom cameras

The new judge in a trial of an Oklahoma City pharmacist sticks by his original ruling to ban cameras from the courtroom.
BY NOLAN CLAY Published: October 19, 2010

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 televised once jury selection was complete. She stepped down from the case Aug. 31 after prosecutors raised concerns about her impartiality.

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.

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