By NOLAN CLAY
CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City pharmacist convicted of murder says he has a "lot of hope" Gov. Mary Fallin will pardon him.
In a telephone interview Friday from Oklahoma County jail, Jerome Jay Ersland thanked his supporters.
"Tell them to keep after it," he told The Oklahoman. "Keep after it until I'm vindicated."
His supporters have gathered thousands of signatures on petitions that ask the governor to get involved.
A jury May 26 convicted Ersland of first-degree murder for fatally shooting a masked robber. The jury chose a life term as punishment. The verdict renewed a public debate over his actions.
Ersland, 59, said again Friday he is innocent. He said he had expected to be convicted of first-degree manslaughter at his trial because the judge kept out his key witnesses. He said he was shocked when he was found guilty instead of first-degree murder.
Ersland had wanted the jury to hear from other robbery victims and from a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed burglary suspect.
He said he has a lot of hope the governor will step in, "see this is a terrible injustice" and pardon him. He also said his attorneys are preparing a good appeal.
The governor's office said May 27 that a convict "has the right to petition the Pardon and Parole Board to request his . sentence be commuted.
"If a majority of the board votes to recommend a commutation, that case then heads to the governor," said Fallin's communications director, Alex Weintz. "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."
Ersland's formal sentencing is July 11. He said he doesn't think his trial judge, Ray C. Elliott, will suspend any of his life term. "I don't have any faith in him at all," Ersland said.
Ersland killed Antwun "Speedy" Parker, 16, inside Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City on May 19, 2009.
Prosecutors told jurors Ersland went too far when he shot the unconscious, unarmed boy five more times after shooting the boy in the head. They told jurors the boy was not moving and was no longer a threat when he was shot again. They told jurors Ersland lied to police afterward to make himself look like a hero. Prosecutors called him an executioner.
Prosecutors charged Ersland after reviewing recordings from pharmacy security cameras that contradicted his statement to police.
Defense attorneys said Ersland courageously defended himself and two female co-workers from two robbers. Defense attorneys stressed one robber, who fled, pointed a gun. Defense attorneys conceded at trial that Ersland has said "goofy" things and acted in ways that are out of the ordinary.
Ersland said Friday, again, that both robbers had guns. He said he believes a plainclothes police officer or someone else picked up Parker's gun and didn't report it. Prosecutors insisted only the robber who fled was armed. The security camera recordings do not show a gun in Parker's hands.
Ersland also said again Friday he was shot in the left wrist during the robbery. Prosecutors said at the trial that the physical evidence proved only the pharmacist fired shots. Prosecutors also put on evidence at the trial that they said showed Ersland faked a gunshot wound weeks after the robbery by inserting metal fragments into his wrist. Ersland insists the gunshot wound was real.
The security camera recordings show Ersland shot Parker five more times after chasing the other robber outside the store, coming back in and getting a second gun. Ersland said Friday he had walked past Parker to call police and got the second gun instead because Parker began moving.
Prosecutors said at the trial that the undisturbed pool of blood beneath Parker's head and other evidence prove the boy never moved on the pharmacy floor.
Ersland said Friday "I would do it the same way" if he had it to do over. He said he regrets he did not testify himself at the trial.