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Pharmacist's jurors stunned by public criticism of verdict

Jerome Jay Ersland found guilty of first-degree murder at trial in May.
Nolan Clay, nclay@opubco.com Copyright 2011 © The Oklahoman Published: June 12, 2011

WARNING: THE ABOVE VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE AND DESCRIPTIONS OF GRAPHIC SCENES OF VIOLENCE.

Three of the jurors who convicted a pharmacist of murder say they followed the law and are upset and surprised at the public outcry against the verdict.

“I've had some family members that have basically stated they thought I was stupid and it was the wrong decision,” one juror said.

“I hate even watching the news for fear that I might see something about the case,” she said. “We didn't volunteer for it. We were asked to do this job and we took it very seriously.”

Jerome Jay Ersland, 59, was found guilty May 26 of first-degree murder for shooting a wounded robber five more times inside a south Oklahoma City pharmacy. Jurors rejected the Chickasha man's claim that he was defending himself and two female co-workers.

Thousands have criticized the verdict, signing petitions that state “our Justice System has let us down” or making their opinions known on Facebook and media websites.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated three hours and 30 minutes. They included a nurse, a radiation therapist and a top executive of an energy company.

During deliberations, the jury reviewed over and over security camera video recordings of the robbery and shooting, one juror said.

The recordings show two robbers burst into Reliable Discount Pharmacy about 15 minutes before closing time May 19, 2009. One pointed a gun. The other tried to pull on a mask. The two female employees fled to a back room.

Ersland shot one robber, Antwun “Speedy” Parker, 16, in the head. Parker can be seen dropping to the floor. The robber with the gun fled. Ersland chased the fleeing robber outside. Within a minute, Ersland came back into the drugstore, walked by the fallen robber and got a second gun. He then walked back to the fallen robber and shot five more times.

A key issue is whether Parker was moving when he was shot again. He cannot be seen on the video recordings after he falls. Prosecutors said the evidence proves Parker was unarmed, unconscious and not moving. Defense attorneys contended he could have moved even while unconscious.

Most jurors declined to comment to the media. The three female jurors who spoke to The Oklahoman last week did so upon the condition they not be identified.

The first juror interviewed — the one criticized by relatives — said the scrutiny of the verdict has been “very upsetting.”

“It wasn't an easy decision because you're talking about a man's life but also you got to consider the laws,” she said.

She said the physical evidence was clear the robber was unconscious and not moving after hitting the floor. She specifically mentioned how a pool of blood beneath the robber's head was undisturbed. “Once I saw the evidence, it was a no-brainer,” she said.

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