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Oklahoma Pharmacist Sentenced to Life for Shooting Robber

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Lil Pun, May 27, 2011.

  1. Lil Pun

    Lil Pun Member

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    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_pharmacy_shooting

    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. Qball

    Qball Member

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    That's crazy. I dunno about a life sentence but the shooter does deserve to rot in jail for a good while.
     
  3. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost Member
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    I don't know about life in prison, but shooting an unarmed, incapacitated (I assume) thief 5 times, with the intent to kill, is a little excessive. His accomplice may have been armed, which probably led to his feeling threatened enough to kill the other man, but the fact that he had time to walk back into the store... go get ANOTHER gun... and then pump the guy full of lead... that kind of kills the whole notion that he was in any immediate danger and just reacted... seems like he was shooting out of spite at that point.
     
  4. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Member

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    If you don't want to be shot to death, don't commit armed robbery.

    first-degree murder is way overboard.
     
  5. Major

    Major Member

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    Similarly, if you don't want to risk getting convicted of murder, don't shoot an unconcious man 5 times.
     
    2 people like this.
  6. Ricksmith

    Ricksmith Member

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    I can see both sides on this one. I can understand him wanting to make sure the robber was dead. That's one less thief you gotta worry about. But Shooting him in the head, getting another pistol and shooting him 5 more times isn't self defense anymore. I don't know about the sentencing though. Tough call for me.

    For some reason, the shooting him 5 more times part reminded me of the "Double Tap" rule from Zombieland lol.
     
  7. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost Member
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    Just because somebody attempted armed robbery does not give you carte blache to blow them away after it fails.

    There's self defense, and then there's killing someone for the sake of killing.

    This ceased being the former after dude put a slug in his dome.
     
  8. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Member

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    I think we are discussing this without having the critical facts. what was the timeline. what was the situation? where was the accomplice?

    Were his colleagues still hiding?

    I would have to see the video.

    In general though, one guy woke up intending to provide a service to the community and make money legitimately. Another guy intended to risk many peoples lives to make a small financial gain. The right person ended up dead.
     
  9. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Member

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    Not sure what you mean by "after it fails" but committing armed robbery is a legal reason to use deadly force.
     
  10. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Member

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    I agree that life is a little too harsh for a guy who went overboard when trouble came upon him. But, he should get something.

    But, I think this was the crazy part of the case:

    I think it's crazy to charge someone with murder because you commit a crime together with someone and things get out of hand and someone else shoots him. This kid didn't intend for his friend to be killed, didn't conspire to have him killed, nor even pulled the trigger to get him killed. This seems like all kind of dumb as a law. And, they've actually convicted 4 people now for the murder of this one kid, when only one pulled the trigger and it's plain that it was not in simple self-defense. How are these other 3 people responsible for someone committing a crime against them while they were committing their own crime? If it's self-defense, then it logically follows that their actions caused the boy's death. But, it wasn't self-defense.
     
  11. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Member

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    Yeah this is a major double standard and logic fail. If the pharmacist committed murder, then this law is dumb. If the pharm was defending, then this law is logical even if it is harsh.

    this seems to be a case of defense lawyers getting destroyed all the way around.
     
  12. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost Member
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    I kind of doubt the unarmed, unconscious guy on the floor with a bullet in his head posed a great threat at that point.

    Like I said, just because someone *tried* to rob you, even armed, does not give you carte blanche to do whatever you want until the police arrive.

    The robbery was over, the threat was neutralized, and then the shop owner decided to then kill the robber.

    Sorry, but this isn't a western movie, we have a justice system to determine these things.
     
  13. Qball

    Qball Member

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    Would you agree it would have been better if nobody had died?
     
  14. durvasa

    durvasa Member

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    There were two alleged acts here.

    The first was shooting the kid in the head ("deadly force") while he was committing armed robbery. OK, I guess that's legal.

    The second was deciding to shoot the kid 5 more times while he was unconscious on the floor. Is he still in the act of committing an armed robbery after being shot down and incapacitated?

    This guy isn't a hero. If the story is as reported, he's a maniac with a gun.
     
  15. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Member

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    I agree but it does give you the legal right to use deadly force.

    45 seconds passed between the first and second shot. Without the video or more info we don't know the situation. If he just casually walked up and smoked the guy it is different than if he was running around and scared for his life.

    Subjective in any case. What is your opinion on the DA still holding 3 other people responsible for first degree murder?
     
  16. ChievousFTFace

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    [​IMG]
     
  17. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Member

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    Your diction here shows your obvious bias.

    "You guess" that is legal? No it is 100% legal.

    This "kid" was a violent criminal. Legally not a kid at all.
     
  18. Rockets2K

    Rockets2K Clutch Crew

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    Did you miss this part?

    Accomplice gone
    timeline was almost a full minute after the first shot knocked the robber out cold.

    I got zero problem with folks defending themselves, but the additional 5 shots that killed him was unnecessary and that is why the shooter was convicted.

    Surely you arent so much a gun nut that you dont see where the line is.
     
  19. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost Member
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    I'm not sure how I feel about that. I've never heard of this kind of situation, really.
     
  20. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Member

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    Of course. Even for the people not in prison their life is much worse. Probably scared to death of robbery. This can ruin lives and create severe mental problems.


    Seems to be an obvious logic fail though right?
     

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