Wednesday, May 18, 2011

3 jury prospects let go in Okla pharmacist's trial

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Two years after her son was shot to death during an attempted robbery at an Oklahoma City pharmacy, the teenager's mother has filed a lawsuit alleging the shooting "was an act of gross negligence and deliberate indifference."

Cleta Jennings filed the lawsuit against Jerome Ersland, 59, and the Reliable Discount Pharmacy over the May 19, 2009, shooting death of 16-year-old Antwun Parker. Jennings filed the lawsuit on Tuesday as jury selection was under way for Ersland's first-degree murder trial over Parker's death.



The lawsuit repeats allegations first made by Oklahoma County prosecutors who have said Ersland was justified when he shot Parker once in the head inside the pharmacy as an attempted armed robbery was under way, but then went too far when he shot the unconscious teen five more times in the torso, killing him.

Security video of the shooting shows two men enter the pharmacy where one of them points a gun at pharmacy workers, including two women. Ersland grabs a gun from behind a pharmacy counter and fires it, striking Parker in the head. He falls to the floor unconscious and out of view of the surveillance camera.

Ersland than chases the second armed man out of the store. When he returns, Ersland walks behind a counter with his back to Parker, retrieves a second handgun and returns to Parker, standing over him as he fires five more shots into his torso.

The lawsuit says autopsy results indicate that the wound Parker sustained from the initial shooting was not fatal and that the wounds he sustained in the second round of gunshots led to his death.

The lawsuit accuses Ersland of negligence and says the pharmacy "was grossly negligent in its training, retention and supervision" of Ersland. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

A telephone message left at the pharmacy after normal business hours Wednesday was not immediately returned. Defense attorney Irven Box, who represents Ersland in the criminal case, said Wednesday: "I think it is unfortunate that a woman who had no control over her son when he was alive is trying to profit from his death."

Ersland has pleaded not guilty in the case and claims he acted in self-defense. If convicted, he faces possible sentences of life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.
Meanwhile, efforts to pick a 12-member jury and two alternate jurors continued Wednesday when three more prospective jurors were excused from service.

One prospective juror indicated he had a problem with the presumption of innocence regarding Ersland and another said he was concerned about a lack of sentencing options. The third had a scheduling conflict involving an unrelated court case. Jury selection resumes Thursday.

The other person in the security video, 16-year-old Jevontai Ingram, is confined to a state juvenile facility after pleading guilty to first-degree murder under Oklahoma's felony murder law.

Two other men, Anthony D. Morrison, 44, and Emanuel Mitchell, 33, were accused of recruiting the teens and helping to plan the robbery and were convicted of first-degree murder earlier this month. They were sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

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