Oklahoma pharmacist's trial postponed until next year

Prosecutors say defense efforts to remove Oklahoma County judge are making a mockery of the judicial system.
BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: November 16, 2010 at 6:48 am •  Published: November 16, 2010
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“It's a joke,” Prater said. “It hurts the justice system, period. It makes people outside of this courthouse wonder what in the world is going on. … How many times can Irven Box say someone's a racist? Me, the judge, who's next? … It's ridiculous. It just is really to inflame this whole process.”

Prater said attorneys, judges and community leaders “from all ethnic groups” have contacted him to volunteer to defend the judge. “There's no one in this courthouse who believes you are a racist,” Prater told Elliott.

In their legal response, prosecutors argued the U.S. Supreme Court and other appeals courts have established that judges cannot be disqualified just because they are opinionated. They gave several examples including a case where a black judge trying a racial discrimination lawsuit had criticized the Supreme Court for being too hesitant to make civil rights changes.

Prosecutors also argued the judge's wife, Sandra Elliott, only sent the judge a copy of a legal ruling about television cameras in the courtroom. They said that was entirely proper.

Background

Ersland, 59, was charged with first-degree murder after he shot a masked robber six times in May 2009 inside the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City. Killed was Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, of Oklahoma City.

Ersland, who lives in Chickasha, has said he acted to defend himself and two female employees. Prosecutors say he went too far when he fired the last five shots, in effect executing an unconscious, unarmed robber who was no longer a threat.

Defense attorneys plan to ask Oklahoma County's chief judge to remove Elliott if he refuses to step down.


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