Oklahoma Pharmacist and Dead Robber's Two Accomplices Sentenced to Life

All three were convicted of first-degree murder for 16-year-old robber's death.

July 12, 2011, 11:33 AM

July 12, 2011 — -- An Oklahoma City pharmacist was sentenced to life in prison for killing an armed robber. Just hours later, the dead man's two accomplices were also given life terms for taking part in an armed robbery that resulted in a murder.

An attorney for Jerome Ersland, the pharmacist who was given the controversial prison sentence, said today he is filing an appeal of his conviction and sentence.

The two men who allegedly masterminded the attempted robbery of the pharmacy, Anthony Morrison and Emanuel Mitchell, were convicted of with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit an armed robbery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, according to ABC News' Oklahoma City affiliate KOCO.com.

Under Oklahoma state law, if a murder occurs during an armed robbery, those who took part in the robbery can be prosecuted for murder.

All three were sentenced Monday in separate procedings.

Ersland was silent as the sentence was handed down, according to KOCO.com. As he was escorted out of the courtroom in his black-and-white striped jail uniform, he shouted, "It's an injustice of a monumental proportion!"

His attorney, Irven Box, agreed. "I thought that he should've been walked out of that courtroom a free man. Jerome, you did what you had to do under the circumstances," Box said, according to KOCO.com. "We strongly believe that we didn't play on a level playing field."

Pharmacist Who Killed Robber To Appeal Life Sentence

The attempted robbery took place in May 2009 at the Discount Reliable Pharmacy.

A dramatic surveillance video shows Antwun Parker running into the pharmacy with one of his two accomplices and pointing a gun at Ersland.

Ersland, 59, then shot Parker in the head with a pistol, knocking him unconscious. After chasing the other two men out of the store, Ersland shot Parker five more times with a different gun.

The Medical Examiner's office said that it was these five shots into the unconscious teenager's abdomen that killed him.

Box told ABC News that his client saw Parker still moving and believed he was still a threat.

Prosecutors argued that the first shot could be categorized as self-defense, but that the subsequent five shots turned the situation into first-degree murder.

On May 26, a jury convicted Ersland of first-degree murder and recommended life in prison with the possibility of parole. Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott handed down this sentence Monday, upholding the jury's suggestion.

The controversial case has ignited many debates about the line between self-defense and murder and since the May 26 verdict, Ersland has been portrayed as both a hero and as a murderer.

There has been an outpouring of support for Ersland, including Oklahoma State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R)."I'm going to spend the rest of my career, however long it may be, trying to right this wrong," Shortey told ABC News.

Ersland's family and friends got 17,000 people to sign a petition on his behalf leading up to the sentencing. There are nine Facebook groups dedicated to freeing Jerome Ersland.

Ersland will not be eligible for parole for 38 years.

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