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Oklahoma Pharmacist Who Killed Armed Robber Gets Life
In a controversial case that has split Oklahoma City and led to volatile Facebook pages supporting both sides, an Oklahoma jury has recommended that a white pharmacist -- who shot and killed an armed black teenager trying to rob his store -- be sentenced to life in prison, following his conviction of first degree murder.
In 2009 two young men burst into the store, pointing guns at Jerome Ersland. Instead of giving up the money, Ersland was able to get his own gun and shoot 16-year-old Antwun Parker.
With Parker down, Ersland chased the other would-be robber out of the store. Surveillance video (below) shows Ersland going back into the store, retrieving a second gun, and shooting Parker five more times while he was on the ground. That shooting, however, takes place just off camera so it is not clear if the teenager was still threatening Ersland.
Ersland's lawyer said he was acting in self-defense. Attorney Irven Box told ABC News that Ersland shot Parker again because he was still moving and thought he was a still indeed a threat.
However, prosecutors said he went well beyond the threshold of self defense. "This defendant was absolutely not defending himself or anyone else," argued Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Chance.
The jury deliberated for just three and a half hours last week before recommending a life sentence. The 59-year-old Ersland will be formally sentenced on July 11. If the judge upholds the jury's decision, Ersland will not be eligible for parole for at least 38 years.
Ersland's lawyers said they would appeal the murder conviction.
The case has split the local community as well as social media. There are Facebook pages for and against the pharmacist.
One supporter is Oklahoma State Sen. Ralph Shortey. 'I'm gonna spend the rest of my career, however long it may be, trying to right this wrong,' he told ABC News.