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Agree with the jury? Man who shot robber convicted, jury recommends life...

AP - Jerome Ersland stands as his guilty verdict is read by Judge Ray C. Elliott in Oklahoma City, Thursday, ...

By TIM TALLEY, Associated Press Tim Talley, Associated Press - Thu May 26, 8:34 pm ET

OKLAHOMA CITY - A jury Thursday convicted an Oklahoma City pharmacist of first-degree murder, saying he went too far when he pumped six bullets into a teenager who tried to rob the drug store where he worked, and suggested he spend the rest of his life in prison.

Jerome Ersland, 59, had been hailed as a hero for protecting two co-workers during the May 19, 2009, robbery attempt at the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in a crime-ridden neighborhood in south Oklahoma City.

A prosecutor, however, said that after Ersland shot Antwun Parker in the head, knocking the 16-year-old to the ground, Ersland made himself "judge, jury, executioner" by getting a second handgun and shooting the boy five times in the abdomen. A coroner's report said the latter shots killed Parker.

"This defendant was absolutely not defending himself or anyone else," Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Chance told jurors during closing arguments Thursday.

Defense attorney Irven Box asked jurors to close their eyes and imagine what they would do in the same situation, and told them Ersland had to take action to end a threat.

"He eliminated the armed robber," Box said.

Police said Parker wasn't armed, and since the shooting have disputed Ersland's claim that he was wounded during the robbery attempt. Ersland did not testify at the trial.

The jury - eight women and four men - recommended a life sentence after deliberating 3.5 hours. Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott can impose a lighter sentence when Ersland is sentenced July 11, but cannot depart upward. If he accepts the jury's suggestion, Ersland would be eligible for parole after 38 years and three months.

The jury's recommendation carries considerable weight. The defense must ask for a reduced penalty, and Elliott must justify any decision to reject the jurors' suggestion.

Ersland, in a dark jacket and red tie, showed no emotion as the verdict was read and was immediately taken into custody. He remained silent as sheriff's deputies led him in handcuffs to an elevator reserved for defendants.

The victim's family members, including Parker's mother, Cleta Jennings, and his aunt, Mona Stewart, ran out of the courtroom crying when the verdict was announced and wept in the hallway before departing via a public elevator.

Box and District Attorney David Prater declined to comment until after Ersland's sentencing. Jurors left the courthouse after declining to speak.

Ersland, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel, worked at a pharmacy that had been robbed before. Immediately after the shooting, anti-crime advocates and many listeners and viewers of talk shows called Ersland's actions heroic.

A video from the store showed Ersland firing a pistol at two men after they burst into the store, one of them armed. Ersland hit Parker with one shot, knocking him to the ground, and chased the other suspect out the door. After returning to the pharmacy, he retrieved a second gun and shot Parker five more times 46 seconds after firing the first shot.

Jurors visited the pharmacy during the trial.

Box had said Ersland was protected by provisions of Oklahoma's "Make My Day Law," named after a Clint Eastwood line in "Dirty Harry." Legislators in the 1980s initially gave residents the right to use deadly force when they feel threatened inside their homes, then in 2006 extended that to their automobiles or workplaces.

Prater said Ersland had the legal right to defend himself and his co-workers during the attempted robbery - and did when he fired the first shot that struck Parker in the head, knocking him unconscious. But the district attorney said deadly force must be used responsibly.

"There's got to be limitations on that," Prater said. "This isn't about gun rights. This is about murder."

The second teen who entered the pharmacy with Parker, Jevontai Ingram, was sentenced to a state juvenile facility after pleading guilty to first-degree murder under Oklahoma's felony murder law. That law allows a murder charge against someone when an accomplice is killed during the commission of a crime.

Prosecutors say two men, Anthony D. Morrison, 44, and Emanuel Mitchell, 33, recruited the teens and helped plan the robbery. They were convicted of first-degree murder in early May and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Near the end of their trial, Mitchell slugged Prater in the face at the end of Prater's closing statement in the penalty phase. Deputies jumped on Mitchell to subdue him and took him away.

As Ersland's trial wrapped up Thursday, 10 sheriff's deputies stood by in the packed courtroom and Elliott warned the crowd to remain orderly.

"This has been a very emotional case for all parties involved," Elliott said. "If you feel for whatever reason you can't maintain your composure, I suggest you step out in the hall."

Answer Question
 
sweet-a-kins

Asked by sweet-a-kins at 11:38 AM on May. 27, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 34 (67,502 Credits)
Answers (26)
  • I do not agree with the jury's decision. He should not have to spend the rest of his life in prison.
    meooma

    Answer by meooma at 11:54 AM on May. 27, 2011

  • Sounds a bit excessive to me but I don't think the guy deserves life.
    itsmesteph11

    Answer by itsmesteph11 at 11:56 AM on May. 27, 2011

  • He doesn't deserve life at all. My aunts nephew on her husbands side was shot in the head once and killed by a pharmacist in Wichita, Kansas when he was trying to rob them. He had a gun but it was unloaded he had suffered from prescription drug abuse after an injury to his back. The pharmacist had no clue the gun wasn't loaded and did what he had to do. It was really sad for my aunt and uncle and the whole family but they didn't feel he should have been charged. He only shot once and he had seen a weapon. So it was pretty straight forward.

    I do wonder why in this case the pharmacist kept shooting after he knocked the kid down. Seems once he shot him in the head and he was down he could have stopped. Since the kid was unarmed there wasn't a threat anymore so shooting him 5 more times is overkill. I do think charging him was right but life seems a bit extreme since the kid brought it upon himself.
    chaiteamomma

    Answer by chaiteamomma at 12:12 PM on May. 27, 2011

  • – collapse
    He should have WOUNDED the guy by shooting him in the leg---shooting him in the head was murder! Holy cow people!!! There is no justification for killing with a bullet IN THE HEAD!!!
    OMG.
    minnesotanice

    Answer by minnesotanice at 12:16 PM on May. 27, 2011 (hidden) + expand

  • So this guy is being sent to jail for protecting himself? Thats absurd. How was he to know both people weren't armed? Why would you shoot to wound someone who's trying to possibly kill you? Now I don't agree with the fact that he emptied a clip into someone a minute after he's already been shot but you can guarantee if it were me I'm shooting to kill. I'm not going to shoot someone in the leg for them to possibly pull a gun on me after the fact. Its sad that we live in a world where people can use deadly force to rob you blind but when you protect yourself you go to jail. If that guy were to live he'd probably sue the dude that shot him. But thats another ridiculous story i'm completely appalled by.
    onemellowmom

    Answer by onemellowmom at 1:12 PM on May. 27, 2011

  • Now I don't agree with the fact that he emptied a clip into someone a minute after he's already been shot but you can guarantee if it were me I'm shooting to kill. I'm not going to shoot someone in the leg for them to possibly pull a gun on me after the fact. Its sad that we live in a world where people can use deadly force to rob you blind but when you protect yourself you go to jail. If that guy were to live he'd probably sue the dude that shot him. But thats another ridiculous story i'm completely appalled by.

    Answer by onemellowmom 27 minutes ago

    -------------------------
    He MURDERED the guy. I think you are one of those gun owners who should NOT own a gun if you feel it is okay to kill. OMG.
    minnesotanice

    Answer by minnesotanice at 1:41 PM on May. 27, 2011

  • He protected himself and his co workers, how was he to know that guy didn't have a weapon on him? He stopped a criminal from robbing him and possibly murdering him and the people he works with. I'd give him a pat on the back. Its not murder, its self defense. If someone was to endanger my life or the life of my child, they would meet the end of a shotgun or pistol depending on where I am. I wouldn't shoot to wound anyone who was trying to kill me just for me to turn my back and get shot myself. Criminals don't shoot to wound and neither would I.
    onemellowmom

    Answer by onemellowmom at 1:45 PM on May. 27, 2011

  • have you seen the video? he shoots the first guy, runs after the second kid, comes back inside, goes to the back room, and then comes back out to shoot the robber 5 more times. that was in no way protecting himself or anyone else. the first shot was justified self defense, the rest was just messed up. he didnt murder the kid (if the first shot killed him) but hes still an unstable jerk. i havent been keeping track of all the details, but life does seem a little extreme.
    okmanders

    Answer by okmanders at 2:13 PM on May. 27, 2011

  • No, I don't agree with the jury. I do think he should have stopped with the shot to the head, but none of us were there and what happened after the first shot. It said it knocked the guy to the ground but didn't kill him. We don't know if he was conscious and making some kind of other movements that were threatening or looked like he was going for a weapon.

    Life in prison for the pharmacist, no. Maybe some kind of lighter sentence, possibly.
    DSamuels

    Answer by DSamuels at 2:14 PM on May. 27, 2011

  • He should have WOUNDED the guy by shooting him in the leg---shooting him in the head was murder! Holy cow people!!! There is no justification for killing with a bullet IN THE HEAD!!!

    So if someone is shooting at you, you shoot them in the leg to wound them? Then they will continue to shoot and probably kill you, possibly with a bullet to YOUR head. Yeah, that makes sense....NOT
    DSamuels

    Answer by DSamuels at 2:15 PM on May. 27, 2011

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