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Prosecutors say defense attorneys ‘playing games' to delay Oklahoma City pharmacist's murder trial

BY NOLAN CLAY Modified: December 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm •  Published: December 6, 2010
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Prosecutors today accused a pharmacist's defense attorneys of asking for a judge to step down because they want to delay the murder trial, not because they really believe the judge cannot be fair.

“It's all about playing games,” Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said at a hearing on the defense request for the judge to quit the case.

Prater called District Judge Ray C. Elliott the fairest judge in the courthouse.

Defense attorney Irven Box said the judge this spring began making negative comments about Hispanics and Latinos that increased as the judge had laborers work on his property. He said he heard the judge tell his female bailiff in the spring “to hurry up and have 10 white babies because the Mexicans are going to catch up with us.”

A deputy court clerk who works for a judge across the hall said she heard Elliott use the word “wetbacks” Aug. 30. She said she did not hear the context.

The pharmacist, Jerome Ersland, is white, but defense attorneys contend the judge's comments about Hispanics are proof that he cannot be fair to anyone.

Ersland, 59, was charged with first-degree murder after he shot a masked robber six times in May 2009 inside Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City.

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