Staff and Wire Reports
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A contentious hearing began Monday morning to determine whether the judge should step down in the murder trial of an Oklahoma City pharmacist accused of killing an unconscious teenager during a robbery.
People packed the court room for the public hearing as the defense tried to get District Judge Ray Elliot removed from the case.
Attorneys for pharmacist Jerome Ersland allege in court filings that the judge used racial slurs and that the judge's wife, who works in the district attorney's office, e-mailed the judge about the case.
The day began with the defense team calling Judge Elliott to take the stand. He denied the motion to testify against himself several times.
The defense called several witnesses Monday, including Judge Elliott's current bailiff, Terron Henderson, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater and defense attorney Irven Box.
Box testified he believes Elliott has shown bias because the judge's wife, Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney Sandy Elliott, allegedly forwarded legal papers that the judge has used in Ersland's case.
District Attorney David Prater testified there is no evidence Sandy Elliott ever forwarded her husband anything related to the Ersland case.
Prosecutors said there is no evidence to support those allegations, and that even if proven true, there is nothing that would deprive Ersland of a fair trial.
Ersland is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2009 shooting death of 16-year-old Antwun Parker.