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Okla. jury convicts pharmacist once hailed as hero

Discussion in 'Legal & Political Archive' started by clearconscience, May 27, 2011.

  1. clearconscience

    clearconscience Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    While I don't agree fully with what he did, I understand and don't think this guy should spend his life in jail.

    Okla. jury convicts pharmacist once hailed as hero - Yahoo! News


    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."
     
  2. clearconscience

    clearconscience Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    This country is becoming a cesspool of violent a holes that could careless about anybody.

    Basically we have to put up with a fearful imprisoned life in a dangerous country that is getting worse by the day and we just have to live with it when no one will fight for us. We just limit police, jails, and plea bargin the heck out of an crime so it's easier and cheaper for the criminals. Not to mention prison being an absolute JOKE!
     
  3. PX4WA

    PX4WA Tacoma, WA Active Member

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    actually his first shot was justified and his follow up shots were definitely murder... he had to find another gun to shoot the other guy dead... that shows premeditation because he could have stopped right there and called 911 while keeping the gun aimed at the unconscious intruder to make sure he is not a threat...

    he went too far and showed he was out for blood... what I don't get is the guy was probably not going to make it anyway with a shot to the head... why did he have to dump his anger and bullets by shooting him again...

    there's probably bad blood in this scenario (prior robberies?) and he took out his frustration on an unconscious guy..
     
    SheepDog223 and (deleted member) like this.
  4. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    Sad. If he'd stopped after the first shot knocked the kid unconcious and called 911 this would likely have been deemed a justifiable shoot.
     
  5. PlayboyPenguin

    PlayboyPenguin Pacific Northwest Well-Known Member 2016 Volunteer

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    This is why you never, ever pull the trigger once a threat has ended. The first shot was justified and stopped the attack. The following shots were cold blooded murder.
     
    tlfreek and (deleted member) like this.
  6. oregonty

    oregonty Salem, OR Active Member

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    Keep shooting till the threat is over. In this case the threat was over and he committed murder. Hope he enjoys prison. He is where he belongs.
     
  7. Trlsmn

    Trlsmn In Utero (Portland) Well-Known Member

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    Sad, this should not have been a first degree murder trial, at most voluntary manslaughter, the pharmacist never asked to be put in this situation but the criminals did. Why isn't the surviving criminal the one up for murder?

    I for one have zero sympathy for the dead dirt bag.

    I pray the judge has more common sense in sentencing than the jury had in convicting.
     
  8. PX4WA

    PX4WA Tacoma, WA Active Member

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    the other guys did get charged for felony murder since somebody died...

    not a lawyer, but the fact he had to go grab another weapon to finish off the unconscious intruder who was clearly no longer a threat, qualifies as premeditation even if it was only for 30 seconds... if he had emptied his first gun all in one burst into the guy that would be a different story...

    if he had accidentally fired the 2nd gun while keeping it aimed at the person, that would be voluntary manslaughter... but clearly he had intent to kill... and finish this person off...

    I have no sympathy for the intruder... but you cannot shoot a person in the back if he is fleeing and the same goes for an unconscious individual... such is not self defense and to defend his actions as just makes all us law abiding gun owners look like out of control blood hungry persons that we are not...

    he killed a man in cold blood.. that's murder in my book... justice was served...

    the 2nd amendment is for self defense and defense of others... it never was meant to justify killing an unconscious person... whether or not he was a good person or not...
     
  9. bugeye

    bugeye Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Heck, I actually agree with you, the sad part is that taxpayers will now have to pay to keep 3 scumbags in jail plus Ersland (about $250K per year). I think Ersland's lawyer had to suck, but it does show that we should keep at least a nearly full mag in the guns so we don't have to stop midstream to get another gun, cause that looks sort of bad for a temporary insanity defense!
     
  10. PX4WA

    PX4WA Tacoma, WA Active Member

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    If he ran out of bullets and got shot himself... It would have been bad. Which is why i don't support magazine capacity limits. Keep a fully loaded mag and a spare when possible.

    All my home defense guns are stored with an extra magazine just in case its needed.
     
  11. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    yep.

    ---

    as to somebody above stating "you can't shoot somebody in the back," that's totally untrue. there are an infinite number of scenarios when it's not only OK to shoot somebody in the back, but probably the best time to do so.

    every case needs to be looked at on its own merits. there are NO catch-alls. i can shoot a man in the back 5 times and be perfectly justified, released by police, cleared by grand-jury. at the same time, there's instances where you could shoot an armed assailant right square in the nose and be arrested, prosecuted, and convicted of murder.

    LIKEWISE.. you can charge somebody with whatever you want- no prosecutor is ever required to charge anybody with murder or manslaughter. the closer you are to the crime's elements, the more likely you are to get a conviction... but there's NO obligation to. this is how husbands who murder their wives' lovers get off with probation (doesn't happen too often, these days, in our feminist panty-waist society, but does still happen)... due to circumstances, the powers that be opt not to go for murder, despite clearly meeting all elements of that crime.
     
  12. PX4WA

    PX4WA Tacoma, WA Active Member

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    actually you are correct... it all depends on the situation... however generally you should not shoot a fleeing person who no longer poses a threat (at least in WA)... but if the person continues to be a threat to you or others, (such as they are approaching and threatening another person) then you can legitimately shoot them in the back....

    now I doubt there's any instance where you can legitimately shoot an unconscious person...
     
  13. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    well i didn't follow this case, and have only read the OP's article, so i don't know what the circumstances are here. if the man admitted, or it was otherwise proven that he deliberately and knowingly shot an unconscious man, then i think charges would be appropriate. not MURDER, by any means- as tlrmslmandmn said, he didn't ask for that fight... the punk brought the fight TO HIM.

    however, i can think of a number of scenarios just off the top of my head where you might shoot an unconscious person and be perfectly justified in doing so. this is a gunfight- people are shooting and ducking and running and nobody is really SURE of anything, except they want to survive. you're going to continue to fire at somebody not until they're down, not until they're no longer a threat- but until YOU KNOW they're no longer a threat. seeing somebody drop when you start shooting doesn't mean you've neutralized them, it doesn't even mean you've hit them.

    but, as i said, i'm not up on this case. he may very well have just walked up to the guy, recognized he was neutral, and coolly pumped him full of lead anyway. i hope not, for his own conscience's sake.
     
  14. jimwsea

    jimwsea Vancouver, Washington state Active Member

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  15. BigNickShooting

    BigNickShooting Centralia, WA Active Member

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    Yup .. shoot him in the back when he runs for cover ... but if he's down after the the first bullet you have to stop. I don't think you can even shoot somebody in the back 5 times ... he'll drop after the first shot
     
  16. BigNickShooting

    BigNickShooting Centralia, WA Active Member

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    Saw the videos ... he made a huge, capital mistake when he went back for the kill shots, especially because he was on cameras ... He also should've allowed one of his co-workers to call (they were women and definitely more frightened than he was). As to the fact he got a second pistol ... that says it all ... although my impression is that he used a revolver and he didn't have more than one bullet in it at first. IT looks to me like he's trying to load it and then he goes back and loads more bullets in it ...
     
  17. BigNickShooting

    BigNickShooting Centralia, WA Active Member

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    Looked at the third video closely on a big screen ... It looks to me that he used a Taurus Judge for the first shot ... If you look carefully at the first video (blow it up on the whole screen) you can see he leaves the first weapon on the counter and he takes the second one from a drawer and shoots him execution style ...
     
  18. trainsktg

    trainsktg Portland OR Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad a budding violent criminal is off the street for good, but the followup shots performed by the pharmacist were a cold blooded execution. Enjoy prison.

    Keith
     
  19. ZigZagZeke

    ZigZagZeke Eugene Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2015 Volunteer

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    Haven't looked at the videos yet, but how does anyone know that the assailant was just unconscious and not already dead from the head shot? It's not murder if you shoot a dead body.

    As to 5 times in the back? I've been timed at 7 rounds per second with a semi-auto.
     
  20. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    you can if thats your MSR (minimum standard response), which it should be 3-5 rounds for imminent threat stoppage. i cant imagine any situation where i would fire 1 round on an armed threat. and the odds of him going down once shot are 50/50 at best- you have no idea how many rounds it will take. there are many, many videos out there of people being shot and NOT going down, much to the surprise and often demise of the shooter.


    the coroner concluded the head shot did not kill him, that the additional rounds to the torso finished him. i didn't stay at a holiday inn express last night, so i don't have opinion on how that's knowable.

    my guess is that the guy's blood pressure was through the roof, his adrenaline had him thinking ONLY of self-preservation and excluding all other considerations... and when he saw that the suspect was still alive, he just equated that to "still a threat," and finished the job. poor sonuvabubblegum.