Oklahoma County's sheriff denied Friday that a pharmacist convicted of murder is being mistreated in jail.
In an unusual news release, the sheriff specifically stated pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland was not “constantly threatened,” sleeps quite normally and clears off his food trays.
“Despite his claims to the contrary, Mr. Ersland is safe and is being provided constitutionally mandated care, including health care and food,” Sheriff John Whetsel said. “Mr. Ersland is being held in a cell by himself and is under constant watch 24 hours a day.”
Ersland, 59, was convicted May 26 of first-degree murder for fatally shooting a masked robber inside a small south Oklahoma City drugstore two years ago. A jury rejected his claim he was defending himself and two female co-workers. The verdict resulted in a public outcry.
Killed was Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, of Oklahoma City.
In a June 2 note to The Oklahoman, Ersland described jail as excruciating and “like being in hell.”
He also wrote in the June 2 note that another inmate “constantly threatened” him. He said in a telephone interview June 3 the inmate claimed to be “Speedy's cousin.” He said in the June 3 interview that the last threat was 20 minutes before he called The Oklahoman.
The sheriff said Ersland is in a small six-cell medical wing that is supervised 24 hours a day. The sheriff said, “On only one occasion, an officer heard another inmate yell a threat to Mr. Ersland. … There is no indication that inmate was related to … Parker or anyone else involved in the case. That inmate was released on June 2.”
Ersland also told The Oklahoman on June 3 he had not eaten or slept for days. He said, “I'm doing absolutely terrible.”
The sheriff said jail workers check Ersland every 15 minutes and he “is often asleep.” The sheriff said, “His sleep patterns are quite normal for someone who has just been incarcerated.”