OKLAHOMA CITY -- Pharmacist Jerome Ersland appealed his murder conviction last month but now he has fired his attorney, Irven Box, and hired a new attorney that is willing to represent him at no charge.
Ersland was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of killing a would-be robber in 2009.
Prosecutors said Ersland was protected by law when he shot 16-year-old Antwun Parker in the head, knocking him unconscious, but they said he committed murder when he shot Parker five more times.
Ersland's new attorney, Doug Friesen, said he's well aware the pharmacist changed his story about what happened in the days following the shooting.
But he said in every life-threatening situation, the human mind rewrites memories.
He said the traumatic situation Ersland was forced into is why he's taking the case.
Tuesday, Box received a letter from Ersland stating, "I no longer desire your services on my case."
"I thought that, hopefully, I could right what I saw as an injustice being done," Friesen said Wednesday.
He said he's represented several police officers involved in shootings and said, in every case, people like Ersland go into shock when confronted with a gun.
Friesen said rational thought takes two to three days to return and said the jury never got to hear that type of testimony from experts.
"This man should not be in jail for the rest of his life. He thought he was defending his life and the life of his co-employees," he said.
Friesen's experience in the use of force is why Oklahoma Senator Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City) asked him to replace Box.
"You need to have somebody that works on these kind of cases, that is an expert in the field," Shortey said. "You know, you don't hire a mechanic to work on your toilet. You hire a plumber."
Karen Monahan has now collected nearly 40,000 petition signatures supporting Ersland that have been going to Governor Fallin's office and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.
She, Friesen and Shortey all visited Ersland in prison in Lexington last Friday.
"His hair is snow-white now," Monahan said. "But he's in a real good mood."
She said Ersland now writes letters for illiterate prisoners and is part of a veterans group.
He's well aware murder convictions are rarely overturned but he and the others continue the fight.
"I'm going to continue to do this," she said.
When asked what keeps her going, she said "I don't know, just hope."
Friesen said he'll see if any errors were made during the trial and he may file a new appeal.