Criminal Justice

Supporters Seek Commutation for Pharmacist Convicted of Murder for Shooting Masked Robber

Supporters are rallying around an Oklahoma City pharmacist convicted of murder last week for shooting a 16-year-old masked robber.

Jurors convicted Jerome Jay Ersland of first-degree murder, even though they were also given an option of manslaughter, reports. Lawyers are planning an appeal, while supporters are seeking a pardon from the governor and creating Facebook groups supporting his freedom.

Ersland was charged in the 2009 shooting death after tapes from security cameras contradicted his statement to police, the story says. Prosecutors conceded that Ersland’s first shot at the unarmed robber, Antwun “Speedy” Parker, was justified. But they argued that his next five shots, fired after Parker had dropped to the floor, were not.

Oklahoma is one of more than 20 states with laws permitting citizens to use deadly force when they are threatened at home or work, the Wall Street Journal reports in its coverage of the verdict. But Oklahoma law does not allow the use of deadly force after the danger has passed.

The stories say the robbery unfolded this way: Parker and a friend with a gun had rushed into the pharmacy, and the friend pointed the gun at two workers who rushed into a back room. Ersland shot Parker as he tried to adjust his face mask, then he chased the gunman from the store. Ersland returned, got a second gun, and fired five more times at Parker.

Jurors recommended a life term, but the judge could suspend all or part of the sentence, says.

Updated at 8:50 a.m. to include coverage from the Wall Street Journal.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.