Former Oklahoma City pharmacist Jerome Ersland has hired a new attorney to lead the appeal of his first-degree murder conviction and life sentence in prison.
Irven Box confirmed Tuesday that Ersland had fired him through a notarized letter that read, "I no longer desire your services on my case as of April 6."
Now leading the battle to free Ersland from prison is Oklahoma City attorney Doug Friesen. Friesen specializes in cases involving gun rights, self-defense shootings and use of force.
Friesen held a news conference Wednesday, along with State Sen. Ralph Shortey and Ersland supporter, Karen Monahan. Shortey and Monahn have committed themselves to helping Ersland fight for an appeal. They've collected more than 40,000 signatures on a petition to convince the parole board or Gov. Mary Fallin to commute Ersland's life sentence.
A jury convicted Ersland in May 2011 of first-degree murder for the shooting death two years earlier of 16-year-old, would-be robber Antwun Parker. Friesen says Ersland's life sentence is too harsh.
"I do not know all of the facts of the case, but what I am convinced of from the facts that I do know, is that whatever happened, this man should not be spending the rest of his life in the penitentiary," Friesen said.
Friesen says he will not charge Ersland, and he plans to assemble a team of attorneys who will also donate their time. They hope to file an appeal soon.