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.

The second juror interviewed said she is trying to ignore the criticism.

“I stand by my verdict,” she said. “You just see it in the media, on Facebook, everywhere. Everybody has a comment and everybody knows about it.”

She said she wants critics to know that jurors had to go by what the law said.

She said, “There are laws and they're set. And we had to follow the laws. As a jury we had to follow the laws. … I think it was a good decision. It was the law.”

Of the critics, she said, “People don't know what they're talking about. … They don't know the laws. They weren't there.”

She also said: “It was hard to do that to someone because it's someone's life. It was extremely emotional for me. … He messed up is all I can say. He messed up bad.”

She said she has been around conversations criticizing the verdict. “I never said I was on the jury. I would just sit there, keep my mouth closed and feel like I was turning red in the face. It was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! Here they are talking bad about me and they don't even know it.' It was very odd,” she said.

The third juror interviewed said she also has been surprised at the outcry.

“I keep expecting it to die down and it's not,” she said.

The juror stressed that all 12 jurors took their jobs seriously and were respectful of each other in their discussions.

“None of us took this lightly,” she said. ‘I don't question that we made the right decision.”

She said the security videos showed the pharmacist was not in fear of the fallen robber when he came back inside the drugstore and got the second gun. Ersland “never even glanced at him,” she said.

She also stressed jurors followed the law in reaching their verdict. “You can't just do what you want. You have to do what's right,” she said. “You can't just make your own law.”

She said she wishes critics of the verdict could look at all the evidence the jury saw. She said then the critics could have informed opinions instead of gut reactions based on emotion rather than reality.

As punishment, jurors chose a life term. Their only other option was a life term without the possibility of parole. At the formal sentencing July 11, the trial judge could suspend part or all of the life term.

Ersland did not testify at his trial. He told The Oklahoman he is innocent but had expected to be convicted of first-degree manslaughter. He has said he was shocked when he was convicted of murder instead.