OKLAHOMA CITY — A former Oklahoma pharmacist will receive a rare hearing before the state’s parole board, requesting his life sentence be commuted.
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.
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 will receive a hearing before the five-member Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. He is seeking a less severe sentence in a request for commutation.
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 Antwon Parker in the head but, when Antwon 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.
Prater told the board he wasn’t sure what, if any, crime Ersland could commit if he was released from prison; however, he thinks it would send the wrong message.
“Why don’t you think about Antwon Parker? He’ll be 16 forever. Did he have a life? Did he have an opportunity? He didn’t have an opportunity,” Prater said. “Antwon Parker didn’t deserve to die. Robbery does not carry the death penalty.”
Without commutation, Ersland is not eligible for parole until 2049. His attorney, Kendall Sykes, declined to comment on Monday; however, she is expected to present to the board on Tuesday.