Petition To Free Convicted OKC Pharmacist Goes Nationwide
Lisa Monahan, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A petition drive to free Jerome Ersland goes statewide. Karen Monahan, a friend of Ersland and an Oklahoma lawmaker are asking for a Governor pardon for the pharmacist who is sentenced to life in prison.
Monahan began collecting signatures at the Reliable Pharmacy soon after a judge handed down the life sentence,
"I was devastated to hear he would spend the rest of his life in jail, he is so nice," Monahan said.
After delivering 24,000 signatures to Governor Mary Fallin's office, the organizers decided to take the initiative on the road hoping to gain more support. The drive kicked off in Ersland's hometown of Chickasha.
Organizers set up at The Medicine Shoppe, a pharmacy Ersland worked at for four years. Patricia Helm, owner of The Medicine Shoppe says her customers always ask how they can help free Ersland .
"He is very kind and gentle hearted, all my customers really loved him and he would have protected me in the same situation," Helm said.
Helm believes her customers are showing support.
"Everyone wants him to be free and enjoy his life," Helm said.
The family of Antwun Parker disagrees. Parker is the teenager Ersland shot and killed during an attempted robbery in 2009.
"No matter how many signatures they get..the D.O.C. is not going to let him out," said Sharon Jennings, Parker's aunt. "We have faith in the system."
Meanwhile, Senator Ralph Shortey says more lawmakers are expressing interest in the movement.
"We will be giving an opportunity for representatives and senators in the 50 counties welcoming us if they choose. I have also been contacted by several lawmakers but I will not say who until they are ready to let the media know," Shortey said.
The office of Governor Mary Fallin responded with this statement.
"When convicted of a crime, an individual has the right to petition the Pardon and Parole Board to request his or her sentence be commuted. If a majority of the board votes to recommend a commutation, that case then heads to the governor. After conducting her own review that takes into account all the facts of the case, the governor may then decide either to grant or deny the commutation.
"In order to protect the integrity of that process, Governor Fallin's policy is not to comment on individual requests for commutation until both the board and her office have completed their own reviews and the governor has made her final decision."