As outrage spreads over the unjust murder conviction of Jerome Ersland in Oklahoma City, a couple of petition campaigns have been initiated by concerned citizens seeking justice. One petition calls for Ersland to be freed on the basis that his shooting of 16-year-old robber Antwun Parker was self-defense. The other petition calls for the removal of Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who decided to prosecute Ersland for murder.
Petition to free Jerome Ersland:
Petition to remove David Prater from office:
On May 26th, 2011, an all-white jury of eight men and four women found Jerome Ersland guilty of first-degree murder in the May 19th, 2009 shooting death of Antwun Parker, one of two black perpetrators who attempted to rob the Reliable Discount Pharmacy where Ersland worked. They returned the guilty verdict after a mere three-and-a-half hours despite the uncertainty of the case. The jury also had the options to convict for first-degree manslaughter or acquit outright. They did elect to assess a penalty of life imprisonment rather than death. Two female co-workers at the pharmacy testified that Ersland was a hero who saved their lives, prosecutors called him an executioner who shot a wounded, unarmed robber five more times after the robber fell to the floor unconscious and was no longer a threat. Ersland will be formally sentenced on July 11th. More background on this case when it first broke was posted on May 28th and May 29th in 2009.
The following raw surveillance video shows the entire sequence and much of the action. You will see the two robbers enter the pharmacy; Parker is wearing a white shirt and the other robber is 14-year-old Jevontai Ingram. Suddenly, Parker appears to fall down and Ingram flees the pharmacy. Ersland chases him out, then returns to the pharmacy. He then goes to get a second gun, then at the 0:55 point, walks over and appears to shoot Parker multiple times. Ersland earlier explained this as because it appeared Parker was trying to reach for a weapon.
Ersland's story allegedly changed somewhat after he was shown the raw video, but he never denied shooting Parker. The confusion can be attributed to the heat of battle; a person in such a stressful situation may block out parts of the incident. But also undermining his case was the disclosure that Ersland had misrepresented his military service somewhat, claiming to have been deployed on Operation Desert Storm when he actually had been stationed at Altus AFB, OK during the time. These misstatements may have biased the jury against him.
As for Jevontai Ingram, he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for his role in his friend's death and was sentenced to a juvenile detention facility. He will be released before his 19th birthday in 2014 if he completes a treatment plan. Two adults who masterminded the robbery were also nailed. Earlier in May, another jury convicted the two men who planned the drugstore robbery of first-degree murder. That jury decided Emanuel D. “E Man” Mitchell, 33, and Anthony D. “Black” Morrison, 45, should spend life in prison.
A June 3rd Daily Oklahoman story reports that Jerome Ersland is having a difficult time in jail since his conviction. He's had all 13 of his medications he needs to treat military injuries and an inner ear disorder known as Meniere’s disease cut off, and is allegedly being threatened with death by another inmate who is supposedly related to Antwun Parker. He's also been served with legal papers notifying him Parker’s mother had filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against him and the pharmacy.
Local public opinion is clearly on the side of Jerome Ersland; an unscientific Daily Oklahoman poll shows that out of 9,179 respondents so far, 76.6 percent say Ersland should not have been convicted. He's also picking up considerable support on Stormfront, which is where I learned the jury was all white. But regardless of the race of those involved, this was a world-class miscarriage of justice.