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De'Marquise Kareem ELKINS





Classification: Homicide
Characteristics: Juvenile (17) - Fatally shooting a baby in a stroller while trying to rob the child's mother
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 21, 2013
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1995
Victim profile: Antonio Santiago, 13-month-old
Method of murder: Shooting (.22-caliber revolver)
Location: Brunswick, Glynn County, Georgia, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on September 12, 1013

photo gallery


Teen convicted of killing baby gets life in prison

By Russ Bynum - Associated Press

September 12, 2013

BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) - A Georgia teenager convicted of fatally shooting a baby in a stroller while trying to rob the child's mother was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole.

De'Marquise Elkins, 18, was sentenced in Georgia's Glynn County Superior Court less than two weeks after a jury found him guilty of murder in the slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago.

The toddler was in his stroller and out for a walk with his mother when he was shot between the eyes March 21 in the Georgia coastal city of Brunswick. The mother and a younger teenager charged an accomplice testified at the trial that Elkins killed the boy after his mother refused to give up her purse.

Elkins was spared the death penalty because the killing occurred when he was 17, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled is too young to face capital punishment. Under Georgia law, the only possible punishments for Elkins were life with or without a chance of parole.

Prosecutors said Sherry West was pushing her son in his stroller as she walked home from a post office when two teenagers approached her that day in March, just a few blocks from her apartment.

Dominique Lang, 15, testified at the trial he was with Elkins when the older teen pulled a gun and demanded West's purse. When she refused to give it to him, Lang said, Elkins twice threatened her baby and counted down from five.

West testified she pleaded with Elkins that she had no money and tried to cover her child with her arms as the gunman fired a warning shot, fired a bullet into her in the leg and shot her baby in the face.

Police recovered a .22-caliber revolver from a saltwater pond, and prosecutors said it matched the gun used in the killing. Prosecutors also have said information from Elkins' mother and sister led them to the weapon.

Lang also faces murder charges in the case. No trial date has been set and it's unknown how his cooperation in the prosecution of Elkins might affect how his case gets handled.

Elkins' mother, Karimah Elkins, stood trial alongside him and was convicted of evidence tampering for helping dispose of the gun. Elkins' sister and aunt have also been charged with trying to help him avoid prosecution in the case.

The killing in the Southeast port city of Brunswick drew national attention and Elkins' trial was moved more than 300 miles away to the Atlanta suburbs because of pretrial publicity.

Elkins' never testified at his two-week trial in August. But his defense attorneys argued police rushed to build a case against Elkins without considering other possible suspects. They even suggested the slain child's own parents may have been the real killers.

Kevin Gough, Elkins' lead attorney, has said he plans to appeal the murder conviction.


Georgia teen found guilty of shooting baby in a stroller

18-year-old De'Marquise Elkins faces life behind bars after a Marietta jury found him guilty of murder. The victim was 13-month-old Antonio Santiago, a baby whose mom Sherry West was pushing him along in a stroller before Elkins appeared.

The Associated Press -

Friday, August 30, 2013

MARIETTA, Ga. — An 18-year-old man was convicted of murder in the shooting of a baby who was riding in a stroller alongside his mom in a town in coastal Georgia despite the defense's attempt to cast guilt upon several others, including the child's parents.

Jurors deliberated about two hours before finding De'Marquise Elkins guilty of 11 counts, including two counts of felony murder and one count of malice murder in the March 21 killing of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago in Brunswick. The man's mother, Karimah Elkins, was on trial alongside him and was found guilty of tampering with evidence but acquitted of lying to police.

De'Marquise Elkins faces life in prison when he is sentenced at a later date. At the time of the shooting he was 17, too young to face the death penalty under Georgia law.

His lead defense attorney, public defender Kevin Gough, vowed to appeal the verdict. A judge denied his request for the teen to be out on bond during the appeal.

"Marky Elkins and his family are confident that he will receive another trial in which he will be able to present fully his defense," Gough said. "Mr. Elkins will eventually be exonerated."

Karimah Elkins' attorney, Wrix McIlvaine, said he would talk to his client and that they would likely appeal.

Sherry West testified that she was walking home from the post office with her son the morning of the killing. A gunman demanding her purse, shot her in the leg and shot her baby in the face after she told him she had no money, she said.

Prosecutors, who declined comment after the verdict, said during two-week trial that De'Marquise Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, are the ones who stopped West. Prosecutors say the older teen pointed a small .22-caliber revolver at West and demanded money. When West refused several times to turn over the money, Elkins fired a warning shot, shot the woman in the leg and the baby between the eyes, prosecutors said.

The killing in the port city of Brunswick drew national attention, and the trial was moved to the Atlanta suburb of Marietta owing to extensive publicity locally.

Prosecutors have said information from Elkins' mother and sister led investigators to a pond where they found the revolver. Elkins' sister also was charged with evidence tampering.

Lang, who was a key prosecution witness in Elkins' trial, is set to go to trial at a later date.

West told The Associated Press that she didn't want to say too much following the verdict because there are still other trials pending in the case and she will be a witness and she will testify at Elkins' sentencing.

"I knew why I was there and I knew that I didn't have my baby anymore," she said. "In the beginning I was in shock. Now things are kind of really setting in. But I'm hanging in there."

West spent hours on the stand during the trial and was grilled by the defense on her personal and medical history.

"I was a little nervous up on the stand and just being asked so many personal questions by the defense attorney," she said in a telephone interview. "It was embarrassing."

The defense tried throughout the trial to prove that the investigation was flawed and that police refused to consider other leads or investigate further once they had Elkins in custody the day after the killing

"They finished their case in 25 hours. Everything else they did after that they just sugarcoated," Lockwood said.

The prosecution's witnesses — many with criminal histories and some drug users — lied repeatedly and changed their stories throughout the investigation, Lockwood said. The defense also said several law enforcement agents backtracked in their testimony to make sure what they were saying fit the state's version of the story.

West made different identifications of the suspect and behaved strangely after the shooting, occasionally joking and laughing while being questioned by police and making other bizarre statements, Lockwood said. The baby's father, Louis Santiago, was in the vicinity when the shooting happened and showed no warmth toward the child's mother afterward, Lockwood said.

Lang testified that Elkins is the one who asked West for money and fired the shots, but admitted lying repeatedly, Lockwood said. And Lang's cousin, Joe Lang, was in the area on the day of the shooting and fits the description of the shooter.

But police never really investigated the baby's parents or the Lang cousins, Lockwood said.

The defense had strongly suggested in pretrial motions that the baby's parents were the killers. Gough made several suggestions to the same effect during the trial. But much of his questioning that seemed to be heading in that direction — including attempts to bring up details about the backgrounds of both of the baby's parents — was blocked by the judge after the prosecution objected.

Prosecutors said the defense presented a lot of theories and speculation but that the evidence and facts in the case proved Elkins' guilt.

Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson showed jurors a string of still images pulled from video cameras around Brunswick during her closing argument. They all showed Elkins in specific locations at specific times the day of the shooting.

Johnson also reminded jurors of the testimony of two young women — one who said Elkins walked her to school at 8:45 the day of the shooting and another who said she spent the night before with Elkins and ate with him later that morning, which was backed up by video stills of them at a convenience store.

The only person whose story didn't match the evidence in the case was Elkins, Johnson said.

Johnson also rejected the accusation that police stopped investigating once they arrested Elkins, noting that they pulled video from various cameras around town and went diving in a pond to recover the gun the following week.

Johnson also slammed the defense for picking on West and her behavior following the shooting: "Does anyone know what the protocol is for how you're supposed to act when you've just watched your child get shot in the face?"


Defense rests in De'Marquise Elkins' murder trial in toddler's slaying, closing arguments at 9 a.m. Friday

Tipster in case says he was motivated by conscience, not reward

By Walter Jones -

August 29, 2013

MARIETTA, GA. - The father of a toddler shot to death in Brunswick while sitting in a stroller told jurors Thursday that he was shopping for his son when he got news of his death.

“I left everything on the checkout counter,” Louis Santiago testified.

Santiago is the father of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago who died from a gunshot wound in the forehead March 21 while he sat in a stroller his mother, Sherry West, had pushed home from the post office. Santiago was called as a defense witness in the trial of De’Marquise “Marky” Elkins, 18, who is accused of firing the fatal shot and wounding West in the leg because she would not give him her purse.

Elkins is being tried in Cobb County because of the amount of pre-trial news coverage in Glynn County.

Santiago was among the last witnesses. The defense rested its case about 6 p.m. and the lawyers will give closing arguments at 9 a.m. Friday.

Santiago said he found West crying in the emergency room at the Brunswick hospital.

“When I got to the room, Sherry was holding onto the rail saying, ‘They shot our baby. They shot our baby,’” Santiago said.

After Santiago’s testimony, the Rev. Wright Culpepper, a hospital chaplain, testified that Santiago seemed remote as West was sobbing.

“What I thought odd, there didn’t seem to be any warmth between them,” Culpepper said.

Earlier, the man who tipped Brunswick police to 18-year-old De’Marquise “Marky” Elkins and co-defendant Dominique Lang, 15, as suspects, testified that his conscience led him to act, not the reward.

“I didn’t do this for the reward money. Can I say this? Whoever had the guns to shoot a baby... I’m doing this for my conscience,” Argie Brooks said.

He has collected $2,000 and will get another $8,000 if Elkins and Lang are convicted. Lang, who testified that he saw Elkins shoot Antonio and his mother, will be tried separately.

Elkins’ lawyers called upon Brooks to testify because they argue he essentially framed Elkins and Lang.

Brooks said he was living with Lang’s aunt Debra Obley and overheard her mention her nephew’s involvement in the shooting of Antonio and West.

“I was the first person to go up to detectives. They didn’t have no leads, no suspects,” Brooks said.

He approached a Brunswick police officer and offered to get Obley high on crack cocaine so she would talk more freely if the officer would supply money for the drug. The officer declined. Brooks later told his probation officer of his willingness to tip police, and they picked him up for questioning.

Brooks testified in a jail jumpsuit because he is awaiting trial on armed-robbery charges that could result in a sentence of life without parole.

Brooks said he has no deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony, but defense attorney Kevin Gough said the conviction bonus was a windfall.

“Marky Elkins is the gift that keeps on giving for you,” he said.

Brooks suggested Gough would feel differently if he were a prosecutor.

“You call it snitch money. It would be ‘help money’ - it would be ‘please help money’ - if it was on the other way,” he said.

Brooks said now that he has come forward, he’s afraid for his life.

“I can no longer go home in this safely,” he said.

A psychology professor from Georgia State University testified about how witnesses are often mistaken while identifying attackers because of stress and police suggestions.

“When you go to retrieve that memory, it’s been updated and influenced by all these things,” said Dr. Heather Kleider.

Another expert witness, firearms examiner Jay Jarvis, testified that his analysis agreed with the crime lab conclusion that it is impossible to prove the gun police recovered had fired the bullets removed from West and Antonio.


Mother of slain Brunswick toddler IDs De'Marquise Elkins

In front of a packed courtroom, she testified she tried to shelter the child.

By Walter C. Jones -

August 27, 2013

MARIETTA - Sherry West wept Tuesday as she told a jury that De’Marquise Elkins shot her 13-month-old son as she tried to shelter the child from the pistol he had already used to hit her then shoot her in an attempted robbery.

She said two boys came down Ellis Street March 21 as she pushed her son Antonio Santiago in a stroller on her way home from buying a stamp at the post office.

“The big one approached me and said for me to give him money,” she said. “... I told him I didn’t have any. ... I told him I have a baby and I have expenses. ... He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby. I told him not to shoot my baby.”

The courtroom was packed with spectators during the emotional peak of a trial that has gained national attention. Jurors scribbled notes, at least one dabbing her eyes. The defendant’s mother, Karimah Elkins, yawned at the defense table.

Elkins, 18, is being tried for murder in Antonio’s death and aggravated assault in West’s wounding during what prosecutors say was an attempted armed robbery. He is also being tried for another botched robbery 11 days earlier.

He and his mother, who is charged with lying to police and tampering with evidence, are being tried in Cobb County Superior Court because of the heavy news coverage in Glynn County.

West told how Elkins fired a warning shot into the ground, then slapped her with the pistol before firing another round at her head as she ducked. Next, he shot her in the leg, West said.

“He walked around and shot my baby,” she said. “I tried to stop him. I put my arms over my baby, but he still shot him.”

Her screams for police drove the boys off, she said, adding that she pushed the stroller inside the gate at the back of her home and tried to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation until an ambulance arrived. She was whisked to the same hospital as her child.

“I kept asking if he was all right. No one would tell me,” she said.

During a lengthy cross-examination by defense attorney Kevin Gough, West acknowledged she had a scarred cornea and needed contact lenses.

“My vision improved,” she said.

She also acknowledged that she suffers from multiple mental illnesses and takes two medications for them that produce hallucinations and memory loss as side effects.


West originally selected the photo of 15-year-old codefendant Dominique Lang as the shooter from a stack of pictures that officers showed her the day of the shooting. The next day, she identified Elkins from a photo lineup.

Gough challenged her identification.

“Is it possible you may be mistaken in identifying Mr. Elkins?” Gough asked.

“No. Mr. Elkins was standing right in front of me,” she said.

Gough also asked her about a life insurance policy she had on Antonio, the fact that neighbors didn’t see any African-Americans running away and why she hadn’t asked the child’s father to buy the stamp and avoid a walk in the cold through a crime-ridden neighborhood. He said he was merely following up on questions that police raised with her originally.

Several prosecution witnesses testified Tuesday morning that Elkins also had tried 11 days earlier to rob a pastor at gunpoint and then shot him.

The Rev. Wilfredo Calix Flores pointed out Elkins as the man who pulled a gun on a Brunswick street March 11 and demanded money and a cell phone. Clever Jimenez Gomez, who was with Claix Flores that night, also identified Elkins as the man who shot Calix Flores in the arm after they didn’t hand over money or a phone.

“That looks like the person who attacked us,” Jimenez Gomez said through an interpreter.

Also speaking through an interpreter, Calix Flores choked up as he described the incident. He stood and pointed where the bullet entered and exited his left arm and grazed his side. He recounted how he was so shocked afterward that he staggered into his church and knelt down to pray until police and an ambulance arrived.

Prosecutors displayed a photo of blood drops on the doorway where he prayed while Jimenez Gomez used his own belt as a tourniquet.

Eyewitness account

The jury also heard from a teenager who said he was with Elkins and saw him shoot Calix Flores.

Dont’e Jackson, 17, testified that he and a friend were walking ahead of Elkins down the alley where Calix Flores and Jimenez Gomez were modifying a fence gate when they heard a ruckus behind them.

“The next thing I know, De’Marquise is saying, ‘Give it up,’ ” Jackson said. “... When the man wouldn’t give him any money, he shot the man.”

All three witnesses identified a photo of the .22 caliber revolver police believe Elkins used to shoot Antonio.

When defense lawyer Ashley Wood questioned Jackson, he acknowledged lying to detectives on two occasions before his own arrest.

“I was lying the first two times because my life was in danger,” he said as his attorney stood nearby. “... He threatened me. I just saw him shoot somebody.”

Jackson explained that after the shooting, Elkins threatened him if he said anything about the incident.

Given a chance to move from the neighborhood where he grew up with Elkins gave him the assurance of his safety, Jackson said.

Both sides and the judge agree that they don’t want to ruin jurors’ plans for the three-day Labor Day weekend and are holding long court sessions to complete the trial.


Co-defendant in child's slaying points out Elkins as person who fired the gun

Dominique Lang, 15, admits he had lied earlier and changed story under pressure

By Walter C. Jones -

August 22, 2013

MARIETTA - Teen murder defendant De’Marquise Elkins counted down from five twice on a Brunswick street before carrying out a threat to shoot a 13-month-old boy if his mother didn’t give up her purse, his 15-year-old co-defendant testified in his trial Thursday.

The toddler’s mother interrupted Elkins’ first countdown at three and they struggled over her purse. Elkins then started a countdown anew and then shot the child, 15-year-old Dominique Lang testified.

Lang pointed out the 18-year-old Elkins across the courtroom as the one who fired the gun that killed Antonio Santiago March 21 during a botched robbery. Antonio’s mother, Sherry West, was also shot in the thigh and was grazed across the top of her ear.

Lang said Elkins struck West with the revolver and then threatened the baby.

“He counted down five seconds. … He was like 5, 4, 3, and she stopped him,” Lang testified in Cobb County Superior Court where the trial was moved because of publicity in Glynn County.

Elkins then tried to wrest West’s purse away from her as they stood over the stroller where Antonio was sitting, he said.

Elkins threatened the baby again and counted down a second time, Lang said.

“She still refused to give him her purse,” he testified.

Lang said he saw Elkins fire a shot into the ground and one into West’s thigh. The witness gestured toward the courtroom floor as he said Elkins pointed the gun either toward West’s stomach or at Antonio but said he didn’t see the third shot fired.

A medical examiner testified Tuesday that Antonio died instantly from a shot fired from as close as 6 inches. Elkins is charged with malice and felony murder, cruelty to children, attempted armed robbery and several counts of aggravated assault, one of which stems from the earlier shooting and attempted robbery of a preacher, also on a Brunswick street.

Lang also faces murder and other charges, but will be tried separately from Elkins.

Prosecutors have not promised Lang that his testimony against Elkins would not be used against him later in his trial. However, Lang’s lawyer sat silently during his testimony.

‘OK, I lied’

In Thursday’s cross-examination, defense attorney Jonathan Lockwood got Lang to admit to repeatedly lying to investigators when questioned the day after the shooting, even muttering to himself in the interrogation room before officers arrived.

“That was you practicing the lies you were about to tell police?” Lockwood asked.

“Yes sir,” Lang replied.

The boy had originally denied involvement. Next, he said he hadn’t seen any of the shots fired.

When Lockwood pressed, Lang acknowledged changing his story at the urging of a detective.

“He was pushing me to say that,” the witness said.

“So, if people push you to say things, you’ll lie. Is that right?” Lockwood asked.

“Yes sir,” the boy replied.

Eventually, Lang grew exasperated with Lockwood.

“OK, I lied; I lied; I lied,” the boy said.

Also Thursday, Elkins’ lead attorney, Kevin Gough, announced he had filed a motion Thursday morning for dismissal based on complaints from witnesses that they had been threatened by Antonio’s father, Louis Santiago.

Gough told Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley that two witnesses had come forward Wednesday night with complaints that the Glynn County Police Department failed to investigate their allegations against Santiago.

According to the brief Gough filed, Santiago’s ex-wife, Sandra Holboy, called police to provide information about him. Holboy, who works for a law enforcement agency but wants the location confidential out of fear of Santiago, believed her call was recorded, according to the brief.

Additionally, the brief says Santiago’s former fiancee, Angela Carter of Jacksonville, also contacted the department to report her own dealings with the father.

Both women obtained court orders instructing Santiago to have nothing to do with the women, the brief states.

Gough called the failure to investigate the women’s claims “outrageous behavior’’ by the state.

Kelley, though, said he had not had time to read the motion and suspected prosecutors had not either. The judge said a hearing could be held on that matter later, possibly Sunday evening.

District Attorney Jackie Johnson estimated that her witnesses will still be testifying through Monday afternoon, which would mean the defense would not begin presenting its case until Tuesday at the earliest.

Also on trial with Elkins is his mother, Karimah Aisha Elkins, 36, who is charged with lying to police and disposing of the suspected murder weapon.


Teen 'who shot baby in the face while robbing his mom counted down from five before he pulled the trigger'

  • De'Marquise Elkins,18, and Dominique Lang, 15, accused of shooting the son of Sherry West in the head

  • Ms West also lost a 17-year-old son to a street stabbing in 2008

  • Lang pointed out Elkins in court as the shooter

August 22, 2013

The teen accused of shooting a toddler between the eyes during a robbery attempt counted down from five before firing, his alleged accomplice testified today after pointing him out as the shooter.

Dominique Lang testified that he ran into De'Marquise Elkins on the morning of the March 21 slaying. A short while later as the two walked together, they saw Sherry West with a stroller.

Lang says Elkins walked to West and demanded her purse before pulling out a gun. When West refused to hand the purse over, he hit her in the face with it and threatened her baby.

'The baby was in the stroller screaming,' Lang said.

Elkins shot Sherry West in the leg with his .22 caliber handgun, he testified, and then shot the 13-month-old baby Antonio Santiago.

De'Marquise Elkins is charged with murder, child cruelty, attempted armed robbery and multiple counts of aggravated assault in connection to the March 21 shooting.

If convicted, Elkins will not face the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the killing, too young under Georgia law to be executed.

Prosecutors have also accused Elkins of shooting Wilfredo Calix Flores outside a local church ten days before the child was killed.

The killing this spring in the port of city of Brunswick, close to vacation spots like Jekyll Island, drew national attention, and the trial was moved to the Atlanta suburbs because of the extensive publicity the case received locally.

In opening statements, Johnson told jurors that both shootings started off as robberies.

'When it didn't happen immediately, as Mr Elkins thought it should, his reaction was to shoot,' Johnson alleged.

'The young man took the gun and aimed it at Antonio's head and shot him right between the eyes,' Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson told jurors.

The prosecutor said Elkins and Lang stopped the mother and child as they returned home from the post office.

Johnson said that Elkins pointed a small .22-caliber revolver at West and demanded her money. West did not immediately hand over her purse and the child was shot.

Bystanders and rescue workers were unable to revive the child, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lang is also charged as an adult with murder but will be tried separately. Authorities said Lang identified Elkins as the shooter.

Defense attorney Jonathan Lockwood suggested that Antonio's parents were somehow involved in his death, though he did not provide a precise motive or further explain that theory.

He said that no one in the neighborhood saw or heard anyone fleeing the scene of the shooting.

He also questioned whether police focused their investigation too soon on the wrong suspects. He said that West tried to collect on a life insurance policy shortly after her son's death.

'The police were under a great deal of pressure to see that the matter was resolved as vacation season was not far away,' Lockwood said.

Lockwood said the child's parents both had gunshot residue on their hands. A report filed earlier by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that gunshot residue can wind up on shooting victims.

The child's father, Louis Santiago, said during an initial court hearing that he touched the bullet wound on West's leg before his hands were swabbed.

Prosecutors said information from Elkins' mother and sister led investigators to a pond where they found a .22-caliber revolver.

Elkins' mother, Karimah Elkins, is standing trial alongside her son on charges of evidence tampering and lying to police. Elkins' sister was also charged with evidence tampering.

An attorney for Karimah Elkins, J. Wrix McIlvaine, said police had violated her rights and that she was not involved in the killing.

McIlvaine said, 'None of these people had anything to do with the shooting of a child.'

Elkins was last a student in the system in October 2011 when he left Ombudsman, an outsourced alternative school program, Weidhaas said.

Both prosecutors and Elkins' defense attorneys declined to comment before the trial, citing a gag order by the judge. The boy's mother also declined to talk.

In 2008, West's 18-year-old son was stabbed to death in an altercation in New Jersey. Prosecutors said the stabbing was self-defense and did not file charges.

Defense attorneys also pointed to lab tests by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that found traces of gunshot residue on swabs taken from the hands of West and the boy's father, Louis Santiago.

Reports filed in court stated the GBI found a single microscopic particle of gunshot residue swabbed from the father's hands, while more than five particles showed up in swabs from West's hands.

The GBI report cautioned that gunshot victims can end up with residue on them. During a preliminary court hearing, Santiago said he touched the bullet wound on West's leg before his hands were swabbed.

In a court filing on Wednesday, District Attorney Jackie Johnson argued that Elkins' defense lawyers have made ‘false, inflammatory and misleading statements’ about the case.

While the toddler's mother identified Elkins as the shooter in a photo lineup, police said much of their evidence against the teenager came from his own family and the younger teen charged as his accomplice.

Investigators have testified that Lang told police he and Elkins were trying to rob a woman pushing a baby in a stroller when Elkins pulled a gun and shot them both.

Lang's aunt, Debra Obey, told police her nephew and Elkins came to her for a ride the day of the slaying. She said Elkins ducked down in the back seat of her car, as if he was hiding.

Four days after the shooting, police said information from Elkins' mother and sister helped lead investigators to a pond where they found a .22-caliber revolver.

Both women were charged with evidence tampering. Elkins' mother, Karimah Elkins, also was charged with lying to police.

Prosecutors say Elkins' mother and an aunt gave police conflicting alibis for his whereabouts at the time of the shooting. Karimah Elkins is scheduled to stand trial alongside her son.


18-year-old fatally shot baby in stroller, his younger companion tells Ga. court

Dominique Lang said Elkins struggled with Sherry West over her purse, then began shooting.

By Walter C. Jones -

August 21, 2013

MARIETTA - The jury hearing evidence in the fatal shooting of a toddler in a stroller in Brunswick will hear the testimony of the 15-year-old boy who authorities said was with the accused shooter, the trial judge ruled.

The jury was outside the courtroom as Dominique Lang, 15, said he had been with murder defendant De’Marquise Elkins, 18, when he tried first to rob Sherry West and then shot her baby, Antonio Santiago, in the head. Lang testified as Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley conducted a hearing on a defense motion to disallow Lang’s identification of Elkins.

Kelley ruled the jury can be told that Lang, while being interrogated by police, identified Elkins as the shooter.

Lang wore a prison jumpsuit and shackles as he slowly entered the courtroom in Cobb County Superior Court where the trial was moved because of pretrial news coverage. Elkins didn’t move or look up as the younger boy walked past.

Lang appeared nervous and disoriented as he climbed to the witness stand.

Most of his answers were one or two words until he described the events of March 21. He said he and Elkins had been acquainted some time before that day but not close friends when they met up less than an hour before the shooting.

Lang said he was walking down Ellis Street toward his great-grandmother’s home, and Elkins was walking the same way when they came upon a woman, Sherry West, pushing Antonio in a stroller.

“He asked her for her purse,” Lang said. “… He kept asking for her purse. She kept refusing.”

Elkins then pulled a gun from his pocket and struck West with it and then threatened the baby with the gun, Lang told the court. The two then struggled around the stroller, Lang said, then Elkins shot the baby and then fired twice more, he said.

Testimony Tuesday showed that West was struck once in the leg and once on her left ear. The baby died instantly from a single pistol round between his eyebrows, a medical examiner testified.

The boys fled to Lang’s great-grandmother’s house, where Elkins made phone calls seeking a ride.

Elkins’ attorney Jonathan Lockwood hurled repeated questions at Lang to try to demonstrate inconsistencies between what he had told police and his testimony Wednesday. Lang admitted he didn’t like Lockwood and that he was giving terse replies because he was eager to get off the witness stand and return home, or at least back to the Youth Development Center in Savannah where he is in custody.

At one point, even the judge said he was confused by the questions.

Lang will be tried separately for murder, but Wednesday he tried to make clear his involvement was limited.

“I didn’t shoot no baby,” he said.

Kelley ruled that the jury could weigh Lang’s credibility but that the photo identification was allowable.

“His opportunity to observe was quite extensive,” the judge said, adding a recap of Lang’s rundown of the events. “It reduces the likelihood that there would be any misidentification.”

The testimony before the jury Wednesday morning was limited to cross-examination of Brunswick Police detective Angela Smith.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough got her to acknowledge that West was not investigated as a suspect even though an older child had died earlier in New Jersey, that she suffers from multiple mental disorders and that her poverty gave her a motive for killing her child for a life-insurance payout.

According to news accounts, West’s older son was killed in New Jersey when he attacked someone else with a knife. In the struggle, West’s son was killed with his own knife and his intended victim was never charged.

West’s behavior after the shooting should have raised the suspicions of investigators, Gough said. But the detective replied that under the circumstances, the behavior wasn’t odd.

“She had just observed her baby shot in her presence and she was shot herself,” Smith said.

A big clue to West’s precarious mental state should have been when she wet herself before being questioned at police headquarters, Gough said. Smith replied that had never happened before in her experience, so she had no reason to consider it a sign of possible guilt.


Witnesses give grisly details of toddler's slaying in first day of De'Marquise Elkins trial

A GBI medical examiner said Antonio Santiago was shot from 2 to 6 inches away and died instantaneously.

By Walter C. Jones -

August 20, 2013

MARIETTA, GA. - Lawyers made opening statements Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a man accused of shooting a baby to death in his stroller with attorneys predicting the case would last all week and possibly part of next week.

An indictment accuses De’Marquiese Elkins, 18, of shooting 13-month-old Antonio Angel Santiago to death and wounding his mother, Sherry West, on Brunswick street in a failed armed robbery attempt.

Several of the women jurors were visibly shaken when prosecutors began showing crime scene and autopsy photos of Antonio bundled in a jacket, mittens and knit hat lying lifeless on a stretcher with a bullet wound between his eyebrows.

Elkins’ attorney Kevin Gough was unsuccessful in getting Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley to disallow the photos.

Jurors stopped taking notes when the photos appeared on a giant computer screen across the courtroom. One dabbed her eyes.

Prosecutors say Elkins murdered Antonio when he and co-defendant Dominique Lang, 15, came upon the child’s mother Sherry West pushing the stroller. They assert Elkins carried out a threat to shoot Antonio and then shot West in the leg when she refused to give up her purse.

The defense argues that West and the child’s father, Louis Santiago, conspired to murder the child for a life insurance payout.

However, the first Brunswick police officer on the scene, detective Angela Smith, said West was crying hysterically, “Save my baby. Don’t let him die.”

West was shot in the leg and complained her left ear had also been shot. Smith said West was upset when the detective told her the child was pronounced dead at the scene.

Smith also testified that both parents tested positive in a gunshot-residue test, adding that the two were holding hands in the hospital emergency room before the test.

An emergency medical technician testified that Antonio could not be revived at the scene. Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiner James Downs testified that the single gunshot was made from 2-6 inches away because of the gunpowder burns around the wound.

“Given the course that the bullet took through this child’s body, this death would have been instantaneous,” he said. “...There was no surviving this injury.”

Gough tried four times to ask Downs if there was a less painful or more merciful way to kill someone. Kelley prohibited it, but the doctor did say lethal injection and electrocution could be as quick and painless.

Earlier, jury selection was marked by a dispute over the racial makeup of the panel, with the judge rejecting defense objections that African-Americans were improperly excluded.

But a statistician testified Tuesday there is a 200 to one chance of random selection yielding a jury with no African-Americans in the murder trial of a Brunswick man accused of shooting a baby to death in his stroller.

Atlanta statistician Jeffery Martin, who frequently testifies for defendants, testified Tuesday morning before lawyers made their opening statements and prosecution witnesses laid out the grizzly details of the case.

“What the statistics are telling us is that there’s something other than random going on,” Martin said.

“You simply can’t expect a young black man accused of murdering a young, white child anywhere in America not to object,” said Gough.

Gough told Kelley that he didn’t know why procedures used in Cobb County to select jurors resulted in a jury that has no blacks. But, he argued that it is a violation of Elkins’ constitutional right.

The case was moved to Cobb County because of massive pre-trial news coverage in Glynn County.

A Cobb jury administrator, Debra Mathews, testified that the three potential jurors who showed up late for duty Monday - one white man, a white woman and a black woman - were too late to be in the 48 available for Elkins’ trial. She also testified that people who had been allowed to miss jury duty for previous Cobb County trials were put at the head of the line for consideration in Elkins’ case. Mathews said she couldn’t say if those people were more likely to be white.

Kelley has allowed Gough to make his case about the jury makeup, but he hasn’t been swayed. Kelley noted that a computer randomly picked those called for jury duty and then shuffled those who answered their jury notices.

“It’s not even random once, but it’s random twice,” Kelley said.

In the end, Kelley seated the Cobb jury of 12 and three alternates. Two of the alternates were black women.

Among the 15 jurors and alternates are nine men and seven women. Two of the men are fluent in Spanish, and several of the planned witnesses are Spanish speakers. One of the Cobb County jurors lived in Brunswick for a year.

Because Elkins was 17 when 13-month-old Antonio was killed in March, the state cannot seek the death penalty.

Lang is being tried separately because he is supposed to testify against Elkins. Being tried with Elkins is his mother, Karimah Aisha Elkins, 36, who is accused of tampering with evidence and making false statements to police. An indictment says she and her daughter, Sabrina Elkins, who will also be tried separately, threw the .22 caliber gun used in the shooting into a saltwater pond and gave lied to police about her son’s whereabouts at the time of the shooting.

The trial resumes Wednesday and is expected to last into next week.


Opening statements begin in Brunswick baby shooting

By Marcus K. Garner - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

August 20, 2013

Brunswick Police and Glynn County Police needed a win, and De’Marquise Elkins presented an opportunity to wrap up two difficult cases, lawyers said.

During opening statements in Elkins’ murder trial, the attorney for the Brunswick teen accused of shooting a baby in the face said police targeted him to expedite their investigation.

“Police were under a great deal of stress and pressure, economically, from the press, to make an arrest in this case,” Glynn County Public Defender Jonathan Lockwood said.

Prosecutors say Elkins, 18, shot the 13-month-old Antonio and his mother Sherry West he tried to rob West on the morning of March 21 as she pushed the child’s stroller.

“At some point, when Sherry did not hand over money, the young man pointed the gun at Antonio and shot him right between the eyes,” Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson said.

Elkins is being charged with malice murder, felony murder, child cruelty, attempted armed robbery and multiple counts of aggravated assault.

Elkins’ mother, Karimah Elkins, also is on trial on allegations she lied to police and had the .22-caliber handgun used in the shooting thrown into a salt-water pond north of Brunswick.

Her attorney, Wrix McIlvaine, said his client had no involvement in the shooting.

“You won’t hear any evidence about how my client shot a child,” McIlvaine told jurors. “Why is my client here?”

Johnson said Dominique Lang, who was 14 at the time of the shooting, was De’Marquise Elkins’ accomplice and a key to tracking down the alleged gunman the next day.

Lang told police he met with De’Marquise Elkins around 9 a.m. that morning, not far from where the shooting occurred, Johnson told the jury.

“De’Marquise said to Dominque that he was looking for someone to rob,” she said.

Lang, who will be tried at a later time, is expected to testify for prosecutors, corroborating Wests’ details of her and her son’s shootings, prosecutors say.

But Lockwood suggested police initially didn’t believe Lang.

“Detectives interviewing Lang said to him, ‘everything out of your … mouth is lie,’” the defense attorney told the jury. “After that, police obtained tunnel vision.”

A detective investigating the robbery and shooting of Wilfredo Calix-Flores, 10 days prior to Antonio’s death, linked his case to De’Marquise Elkins, Johnson told the jury.

“When he heard about the case, he said it sounded similar to a case he was investigating,” she said of Brunswick Police Detective Roy Blackstock, who is expected to testify. “When the suspects were identified in the baby case, a lineup was produced.”

A witness pointed out De’Marquise Elkins.

Lockwood called the detective opportunistic and lazy, however.

“Blackstock … did no real investigating on his case until 10 days later,” Lockwood said. “Until this case.”

The trial began after a contentious jury selection in which Lockwood’s co-counsel, Glynn County Public Defender Kevin Gough on three occasions tried unsuccessfully to redraw the panel of juror candidates because there were no black men among them.

It had been moved from coastal Glynn County because the community there was divided along racial lines, among other things.

When testimony began late Tuesday afternoon, the first witnesses, a paramedic who responded when Antonio was shot and the GBI medical examiner, brought tears to jurors’ eyes as they answered questions about the pictures displayed of the toddler’s fatal injury.

“This death was instantaneous,” GBI forensic pathologist Dr. Jaimie Downs said. “There was no surviving this injury.”

One witness, Brunswick Police Detective Angela Smith admitted to initially thinking West shot her own child, just because of how bizarre the mother’s story was.

“Did you consider Sherry West a suspect in this case?” Johnson asked the detective.

“Somewhat … yes,” Smith said.


“Because it was just hard to believe,” Smith said.


Mother, aunt of Brunswick baby murder suspect charged with lying to police

A gun was also found after the women were arrested.

By Terry Dickson -

March 26, 2013

BRUNSWICK - A handgun discovered Tuesday will be tested to determine if it was used to kill a Brunswick baby last week in a stroller.

After police arrested the mother and aunt of murder suspect De’Marquise Elkins, 17, Tuesday morning on charges of making false statements, the women provided information that eventually led investigators to the gun, Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said.

Investigators found the gun about 8 a.m. in a marsh pond east of U.S. 17 near its intersection with Spur 25, Doering said. That was about three hours after the arrests of Elkins’ mother, Karimah Aisha Elkins, 36, and aunt, Katrina Latrelle Elkins, 33.

An officer using an underwater metal detector found the gun in 2 1/2 to 3 feet of water after a four-hour search, Doering said.

Antonio Angel Santiago, 13 months old, was shot in the face as he sat in a stroller that his mother Sherry West was pushing near their apartment, which faces Union Street. West said one of two assailants demanded money before shooting her in the thigh and then her child in the head with a handgun.

Dominique Lang, 14, is also charged with murder.

Both suspects are being held without bail.

Probation violation

The two women posted $1,104 bail Tuesday, but Katrina Elkins is still being held on a probation violation warrant issued by Henry County, Undersheriff Ron Corbett said.

She is charged with violating her probation on misdemeanor charges of speeding and driving with a suspended license, Henry County Police Capt. David McCart said.

Doering would not say what led to the false statements charge.

Katrina Elkins has said publicly that her nephew was with her from breakfast throughout the morning that the boy was slain and could not have killed the child.

Karimah Elkins refused to speak with the Times-Union before and after her son’s court appearance Monday.

Asked about the charges against the two women, Public Defender Kevin Gough, whose office is defending Elkins, said he didn’t know the basis of the charges.

“In these situations that are so highly charged, it’s not unusual for people to shift things in favor of their loved ones,’’ Gough said.

He has filed demands for a speedy trial, West’s psychiatric records and a motion for a bail hearing.

The slain child’s body was cremated Monday at a funeral home north of Brunswick, said Wally Mathis, a neighbor and friend of the boy’s father, Louis Santiago.

“Lou really loved that boy,” and he has his ashes, Mathis said.

Jennifer Carter, the owner of Affordable Taxi, said she often drove West to doctor’s appointments, to the grocery store and Walmart. She said West, who had an 18-year-old son killed in a fight in New Jersey years ago, called Antonio her miracle baby.

“Ever since she had the baby, she’d say the same thing: The Lord had blessed her with another son. It was her second chance at having a son,’’ Carter said.


Teens arrested in fatal shooting of Brunswick baby

By Mike Morrison and Terry Dickson -

March 22, 2013

BRUNSWICK - As police announced the arrest of two young men in Thursday’s shooting death of her 13-month-old son, the mother said Friday she will go home to family in New Jersey where she will feel safer.

Hobbled by a gunshot wound in her right thigh, Sherry West said she had picked out the two teens’ photographs Friday morning in a police photo lineup.

“He looked just like the young man who killed my baby,’’ she said of the likeness of the older suspect’s photo. “It was just like he was standing in front of me.”

Brunswick Police Chief Tobe Green said officers had arrested De’Marquise Kareem Elkins, 17, and a 14-year-old he declined to name under Georgia law because he is a juvenile. Both are charged with murder.

The Glynn County Sheriff’s Office said Elkins was booked into the county jail late Thursday. The other suspect is being held in a youth detention center.

Her voice breaking in her one-bedroom apartment, West said she is “missing my baby a lot” and very sad that her family “never got to meet the newest addition to the family before he was shot.”

She has made arrangements for a private funeral service and her son’s cremation, she said.

Saying she still doesn’t feel safe, West was packing with help from friends to go home to New Jersey for a few weeks, worried that “there are family members like him [the shooter] who might retaliate after there is an indictment.”

Green said officers searched three locations but no weapon has been recovered.

West said she is grateful and relieved with the arrest.

Earlier Friday, she had told a harrowing story of seeing her baby shot with a pistol she at first thought was a toy or a BB gun even after the gunman threatened to shoot her son and had shot her.

West said she was walking home from the post office, pushing her sleeping son in his stroller, when she met what she thought were two young boys on Ellis Street just around the corner from her home on Union Street.

The bigger of the two immediately demanded money, West said.

“He said, ‘I want your money. Give me your money,’ ’’ she said. “I said, ‘I don’t have any money. I have a baby to take care of. They cost money.’’’

The gunman asked, “Do you want me to kill your baby?’’ West said.

When she said no, West said he fired a shot at her head that grazed her left ear, shot her in the left thigh and then shot her son as he sat in his stroller.

The two then ran away on London Street, she said.

“He shot my son right in the face,’’ she said. “It was almost right between his eyes.”

West said she pushed the stroller onto a walkway, pulled Antonio from his stroller harness and began doing CPR.

Her son died at the scene about 9:20 a.m. despite EMT attempts to revive him. She was treated for her wound and released home Thursday night.

A neighbor told police of hearing the shots and a woman screaming for someone to call for help.

Pulling up a leg of her workout pants, West showed a bullet entry wound on the front of her thigh. There was bruising on her shin as if blood had pooled there and physicians told her they would not remove the bullet because it would cause more damage.

The boy’s death was the second time West has lost a child to violence.

Her 18-year-old son, Shaun Glassey, died of stab wounds four years ago. She said he was trying to break up a fight but that his assailants weren’t charged.

The South Jersey Times reported police accounts that said Glassey was among a group of teens that jumped other teens, one of whom defended himself with a steak knife.

West’s first floor apartment is in one of the big houses on Union Street that has been divided into apartments. Many of the houses, however, are big Victorian homes that have been restored or carefully kept up.

Antonio’s father, Louis Santiago, lives diagonally across Union Street from West in another apartment house.

“I’ve lost my boy,’’ Santiago said Friday morning. “They could have just let him live.”

He walked across later with two framed pictures of Antonio and showed them to Joseph and Dawn Mayes, who were passing by walking their dogs. Dawn Mayes is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church a few blocks north on Union, and her husband is minister of music across town at College Place United Methodist.

First Presbyterian will host a community prayer service Sunday night at 7:15 for anyone who wants to come, she said.

Green thanked all the police agencies that flooded the area and worked with the Brusnwick police to make a quick arrest.

“There was pure saturation of the neighborhood,’’ Mayor Bryan Thompson said Friday.

He also urged the public to continuing calling police with any information even though two arrests have been made.


Baby fatally shot in stroller on Brunswick street; mother wounded

Massive hunt under way Thursday in 100-block area of Brunswick's south end

By Mike Morrison and Terry Dickson -

March 21, 2013

BRUNSWICK - A 13-month-old child was fatally shot Thursday and his mother was wounded as she pushed him along a city street in a stroller.

Brunswick Police Chief Tobe Green said no motive for the attack had been determined.

The two assailants were teens or younger, the mother said. She said she didn’t who they were.

No arrests have been made.

The child was shot in the face and died at the scene, and the mother was shot in the leg and taken to Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick hospital.

The mother, who along with her son was not identified, described the shooter as a black male, 13 to 15 years old, 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-9, slender and wearing a red shirt. He was accompanied by another black male who she said was 10 to 12 years old and wearing a black shirt.

The shooting took place about 9:15 a.m. as the victims strolled along London Street in the city’s historic Old Town district.

The mother lived in a rental house just around the corner on Union Street, police said. Neighbors across the street said they did not know her.

“The situation we had here this morning is quite disturbing,” Green said.

Every police agency in Glynn County and some from outside the county sent officers to help in the door-to-door search.

The interagency Brunswick-Glynn County Violent Crimes Task Force came to the scene. The Camden County Sheriff’s Office sent a tracking dog team and other deputies, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources rangers were also in on the search.

A DNR helicopter flew slowly overhead and four Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents worked the crime scene.

The searchers wore bulletproof vests and some carried shotguns or fully automatic rifles.

“Whatever we can do to help the city, that’s what we’re going to do,” Glynn County Sheriff Neal Jump said.

The police presence had diminished by nightfall, however, as many of Glynn County's officers responded to a brief armed standoff at a house just north of the city limit.

Residents began venturing out, most of them walking dogs. A few stopped to talk to neighbors turned toward the block where the child was killed. None said they knew the victims.

Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson appeared angry as he spoke at a news conference, urging any citizens with knowledge of the crime to contact police.

“If you know something and don’t call, you are complicit in this crime,” he said.

Glynn Academy high school, two blocks north of the crime scene, was put on lockdown for 45 minutes following the shooting, and Glynn Middle School several blocks south was put on alert, Glynn County schools spokesman Jim Weidhaas said.

“It’s just a preventative measure,” he said. “We’re doing what we can to keep the students and staff over there safe.”

The lockdown was lifted even as the search for the two suspects continued, but the school system’s police officers were posted at all the access points to Glynn Academy.

As school let out at Glynn Academy, police maintained a strong presence, patrolling and keeping up the search for the suspects.

Thursday afternoon, Travis Young walked his dog Luna. Young and his wife have lived 18 years about half a block from the scene of the child’s death in one of the many restored houses in Old Town.

“It’s troubling,’’ he said. “That’s just unbelievable.”

He mentioned another recent shooting a few blocks north.

“There have been random acts of violence, but I’ve never felt unsafe,’’ he said.

A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the shootings, Green said.

Anyone with information should call Silent Witness at (912) 267-5516 or the county police hotline at (912) 264-1333.

Callers may remain anonymous, a point Thompson stressed.

“I can guarantee you anonymity,’’ he said.



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