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Pharmacist wants Oklahoma County prosecutor off murder case

Jerome Ersland faces trial Dec. 6, but it may be delayed if the district attorney is disqualified.
BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: October 2, 2010 at 1:08 am •  Published: October 2, 2010

Pharmacist Jerome Jay Ersland is asking a judge to kick Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater off his murder case.

Ersland's defense attorneys contended Friday that Prater has made this prosecution personal and has acted unethically. In a legal motion, the attorneys described Prater as "a man driven by a desire to have a conviction at any cost; not justice."

They also claim Prater has an emotional personal stake in the 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," the attorneys wrote.

The attorneys are asking that Prater and all his assistants be disqualified.

Prater told The Oklahoman, "This case is no different to me than any other."

The district attorney also said the disqualification request "is void of any truthful allegations or applicable law."

Ersland, 58, 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 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 robber who was no longer a threat.

The murder trial is set for Dec. 6.

District Judge Ray Elliott will hear the request, probably this month. The trial might be delayed — however the judge rules.

Defense attorneys can appeal if the judge rules against disqualification. The attorney general would have to pick a replacement to handle the trial if the judge agreed to the disqualification.

The defense attorneys specifically criticize Prater for making public a video of the shooting when he announced he was filing charges. They contend Prater violated rules of professional conduct.

The case attracted national attention because of the release of the video from surveillance cameras at the pharmacy.

The recording shows two robbers coming inside the store. One, later identified as Jevontai Ingram, points a gun as Parker pulls on a ski mask. The pharmacist shoots Parker in the head and chases Ingram out of the store. Parker falls to the floor. The pharmacist then returns to the store, gets a second gun and shoots Parker five more times.

Defense attorneys contended: "There was no legitimate purpose for the release of the video other than to stir public sentiment against Mr. Ersland. The release of the video did nothing to further the administration of justice."

Ersland is being defended by Irven Box and three other attorneys. Box declined further comment Friday.

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