OKLAHOMA CITY – A former pharmacist who is serving life in prison for first-degree murder has been granted something rare: a commutation hearing by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
Jerome Jay Ersland was found guilty of murder after he shot a teen robber to death back in 2009. The teen was already incapacitated from being shot once, but Ersland got another gun and shot the boy several more times.
“It’s incredibly rare that a case like this would even be granted a commutation hearing for a number of reasons," said attorney Jackqui Ford. "One being the nature of the offense he was convicted of in conjunction with the fact that he hasn’t really been in prison all that long.”
On his Nov. 9, 2017 application, Ersland recounts his memory of the incident and says he is serving his “7th year in prison for ‘going to far.’” He also claims his trial wasn’t fair .
Ersland also says, “I will die in prison if my sentence is not commuted. Please help!”
One attorney says if his sentence is reduced, it would violate what America stands for.
“They want to limit the punishment imposed by the jury and under the law of the United States, nobody can tell a jury what to do," said attorney Garvin Isaacs. "When they sit in that jury box, they are the third branch of government. Thank God we have juries.”
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board hearing will be April 16-18 at the Kate Barnard Correction Community Center.
If the board approves Ersland’s request for a lighter sentence, the issue will then go before the governor, who will make the final decision.