Ex-Pharmacist Appeals Murder Conviction in Federal Court

On May 19, 2009, two masked intruders attempted to rob the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in Oklahoma City. Only one got out alive.

The would-be robbers were 14-year-old Jevontai Ingram and 16-year-old Antwun "Speedy" Parker. The two teens were acting under the direction of two adults, Emanuel D. "E-Man" Mitchell and Anthony D. "Black" Morrison. Morrison provided a gun to the younger teen; Mitchell waited outside the pharmacy in a stolen getaway car.

Acting in Self Defense

When the teens entered the store, pharmacist Jerome Ersland, acting in self-defense and in defense of two female employees of the store, shot at the intruders, striking Parker in the head and rendering him unconscious before chasing Ingram out the door. Ersland was initially lauded as a hero for protecting his employees; however, surveillance video soon had the pharmacist on trial for murder.

After Ersland shot and disabled Parker, he ran after Ingram before returning to the store, getting a second gun, and shooting Parker five more times. Investigators said at that point, Parker was alive but unconscious and no longer a threat to Ersland or the other employees of the Reliable Discount Pharmacy. His actions, prosecutors said, were no longer justified, but were instead murder.

Results of the Trial

At trial in 2011, a jury convicted Ersland of first degree murder, sentencing him to life in prison.

Ersland and his attorneys appealed. In June 2013, he lost his first appeal, with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals rejecting all of his complaints and upholding his conviction.

Appealing the Conviction

The appeals court also upheld the conviction of Morrison, Parker's cousin, but ordered a new trial for Mitchell, who appealed on the grounds that he was not allowed to represent himself.

At the time he lost the appeal in 2013, Ersland's attorney said, "Well, I guess the only shot then is federal court."

He lost an appeal again in federal court in Oklahoma City, and now he is taking his last-ditch appeal to the federal court in Denver. His new attorney has filed paperwork at the 10th U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado, where he hopes Ersland's conviction will finally be reversed.

Ersland's latest appeal is based on "new evidence," in which he claims to now remember that the second gun--the one used to kill Parker--was in his pocket all along, and not in a counter drawer. He says this supports his story of how he was going behind the counter to call 9-1-1, not to get another gun, and that he only shot again because he saw Parker move.

U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton already ruled against Ersland, saying the video surveillance video shows Erland "making a beeline" to the counter in which the gun was held and "walking right past the phone" to do so. He also referenced all of the previous deception shown by Ersland in the early days of the case. His history of dishonesty in conjunction with the video evidence seem to support that this "new evidence" in the form of a recently recovered memory is, in fact, just another falsehood in a last-gasp effort to reverse his conviction and/or life sentence.

Ersland will not be eligible for parole until 2049.

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