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OK Pharmacist Gets Life: Killed Would-Be Robber

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on July 12, 2011 9:51 AM

Oklahoma pharmacist Jerome Ersland has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Earlier, Ersland had been convicted of murder for the death of a would-be robber, Antwun Parker, 16.

Ersland, 59, had been hailed as a hero by some. Ersland shot Parker when Parker and another teenager attempted to rob the Reliable Discount Pharmacy, where Ersland works.

Ersland claims that he was trying to defend himself and his coworkers. Parker was unarmed at the time. His conviction and his sentencing have set off a flurry of public debate, reports The Oklahoman.

Prosecutors said that Ersland's actions amounted to murder, and a jury agreed. They say that Parker was already unconscious on the floor when Ersland got another gun, firing 5 more rounds into him, reports The Oklahoman. Ersland maintains he was trying to protect himself and his coworkers, and that Parker was trying to get up.

While Parker was unarmed, the other teenager, Jevontai Ingram, had a gun, The Oklahoman reports. Two men who had convinced the two teens to commit the robbery had been convicted of first-degree murder as a result of Parker's death as well, and have both been sentenced to life in prison.

Should Ersland face the same punishment, and did his actions amount to first-degree murder? Self-defense and defense of others is a defense to killing another.

However, there are some factors that may have come into play. For one, the force used in self-defense needs to be proportional. Deadly force can be met with deadly force. And, the threat must be imminent: if a thief pulls a gun on you and threatens to rob you, you can't wait a day and then kill the thief in self defense.

If Parker was prone on the floor, did he pose an imminent threat? And, was the use of force proportional when Parker didn't have a gun (keeping in mind that his accomplice, Ingram, did have a gun)?

Apparently, the jury did not think all the elements of self-defense were met, finding Ersland convicted of murder. And now that Jerome Ersland has been sentenced to life in prison, his only hope may be to appeal his case further.

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