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Board denies Oklahoma pharmacist’s request for commuted sentence

OKLAHOMA CITY — A former Oklahoma pharmacist convicted of murder had his request for commutation denied.

Jerome Ersland is serving a life sentence after he was convicted of first-degree murder for the 2009 shooting death of 16-year-old Antwun Parker.

Parker died during a botched robbery that took less than one minute to unfold.

Video surveillance from Reliable Pharmacy

Ersland claimed he was acting in self defense, trying to protect his store and his employees after two teens attempted to rob the Reliable Pharmacy.

However, a jury found he went too far when he shot an unarmed Parker several times.

The jury recommended a life-with-parole sentence in the case, which launched a nationwide debate over the limits of self-defense.

This week, Ersland went before the five-member Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to ask for his sentence to be commuted.

Jerome Ersland

At a hearing Monday, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater described Ersland as an “executioner” in the 2009 shooting, not as a victim.

“He’s always said, ‘Hey, I was just being robbed, I was defending everyone,” Prater said. “The fact is he was a victim in the beginning. When the robbery began, he had the right to shoot Antwun Parker in the head but, when Antwun Parker went down… still alive and unconscious on his back, he was no threat to anyone at all.”

According to Prater, Parker was shot once in the head before Ersland ran out of the store to chase the second teen suspect. He returned roughly 45 seconds later, grabbed another gun and shot Parker five more times.

Kris Steele, a member of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, brought Ersland’s age into question on Monday.

“I wonder, at 66 years old, this being his only documented criminal activity… is he legitimately a danger to society?” Steele asked Prater.

On Tuesday, the board denied his request for commutation with a vote of 3-2.

 

Ersland is not eligible for parole until 2049.