Pharmacist Jerome Ersland was given a life sentence for killing an armed robber inside his pharmacy. Details and surveillance video are at the link above, but here's the concise version.
Dramatic surveillance video of the attempted burglary shows Parker and an accomplice running into the pharmacy in the crime-ridden neighborhood and pointing a gun directly at Ersland.For that action Ersland was charge with murder and received a life sentence.
The video then shows Ersland, a former Air Force lieutenant colonel, firing a pistol at the two men, hitting Parker with one shot that knocked him to the ground.
After chasing Parker's accomplice out of the store, Ersland retrieved a second gun and returned to shoot Parker five more times, 46 seconds after firing the first shot.
Ersland's lawyer told ABC News that the pharmacist saw Parker moving and thought he was still alive, and still a threat."
In my opinion both the charge and the sentence are complete travesties. According to the article, the entire incident took place in less than a minute. Ersland's reasoning for returning to shoot the wounded criminal is perfectly plausible when you consider the amount of time that had passed. How was he to know that the wounded man wasn't going for his weapon? Was he supposed to just stand there, watch him, and wait to see what he might do?
It would be nice if prosecutors gave the benefit of the doubt to people defending their lives and businesses. Did Ersland overreact in the heat of the moment by finishing off Parker? Maybe. But charging him with murder was uncalled for. At worst he should have been charged with manslaughter, as there were clear mitigating circumstances. A life sentence based on his actions is completely insane. Apparently that sentence was recommended by the jury, but the judge still has to rule.
The judge could suspend part or all of the life term. If he chooses to uphold the jury's full suggestion, Ersland will not be eligible for parole for another 38 years and three months.Hopefully the judge will be less pro-criminal than the jury and right this injustice.