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Oklahoma pharmacist's attorneys want judge off murder trial

The defense attorneys for Jerome Jay Ersland asked Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott to step down from the pharmacist's murder trial. Elliott refused.
BY NOLAN CLAY Published: November 10, 2010

A pharmacist charged with murder for fatally shooting a robber wants a different judge to preside over his trial.

His defense attorneys on Tuesday asked Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott to step down from the case.

The defense effort could result in another delay in the trial for the pharmacist, Jerome Jay Ersland, 59, of Chickasha. The jury trial is now set to begin Dec. 6.

The first trial judge in the case, Tammy Bass-LeSure, took herself off the case Aug. 31 after prosecutors complained she couldn't be fair.

Defense attorneys made their request for Elliott to step down in a closed-door meeting with the judge and prosecutors, as is required by law. Ersland waited in the courtroom.

The judge refused during the 15-minute private meeting to step down. Elliott ruled nothing raised by defense attorneys warranted his recusal. The next step is for defense attorneys to ask the judge again, this time in a public hearing.

"The procedure is — to be fair to the judge and not to embarrass the court — we go into his chambers, shut the door, ask him, 'Judge, we want you off. Here's why we want you off,'" lead defense attorney Irven Box said. "The only way we go to Step Two is if he says, 'No,' at the first hearing."

The judge is expected to have the second, public hearing on the recusal request next week.

Box would not disclose to news reporters why he wants the judge, who has been a longtime friend, off the case. "We expect to call several witnesses," Box said.

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