Trial Begins for Teen Accused of Killing Baby
MARIETTA, Ga. (CN) - The murder trial of a teenager accused of shooting a baby to death in a stroller because his mom didn't have any money will begin Monday in Georgia.
A grand jury indicted De'Marquise Elkins, 17, and Dominque Lang, 15, on 17 counts, including felony murder and aggravated assault. They are being tried separately. Elkins' trial begins today.
They are accused of shooting to death Antonio Santiago, the 13-month-old son of Sherry West, as she walked him in a stroller.
Elkins' trial has been moved from Brunswick, Ga., in Glynn County, where the crimes occurred, to Cobb County, because of pretrial publicity.
According to newspaper reports, West was walking home from the post office near her home in Brunswick on March 21, pushing her baby in his stroller, when two teenagers approached and asked for money.
West told police: "When you have a baby, you spend all your money on babies. They're expensive. And he kept asking and I just said, "I don't have it.'"
When she told them she did not have any money, she claims the older teen pointed a gun at her and said, "Do you want me to kill your baby?"
Putting her hands in front of her child to shield him, she replied, "No, don't kill my baby."
Police said four shots were fired from a .22 caliber pistol. One grazed West's ear and one hit her in the leg.
De'Marquise Elkins then allegedly stepped to the front of the stroller and shot Antonio in the face, killing him.
Elkins' mother, Karimah Elkins, his older sister, Sabrina Elkins, and his aunt, Katrina Elkins, all have been charged with evidence tampering and making false statements to police.
According to the indictment, Katrina Elkins told police on March 22 that Elkins was with her at her house when the shooting took place.
Elkins' mother and sister are accused of throwing the .22 caliber revolver into a salt water pond, to obstruct the investigation and prosecution. The mother, Karimah, owned the gun.
Both teenage boys will be tried as adults, but separately.
Elkins' trial will begin Monday, before in Cobb County Superior Court. He is charged with felony murder. His mother will be tried with him, for felony obstruction.
Lang will be tried separately, in Glynn County. He is expected to testify at Elkins' trial.
In a series of motions, the defense has raised question s about West's behavior before and after the killing, and the behavior of her estranged husband, Louis Santiago, who is the father of Antonio Santiago.
The Glynn County Public Defender's office filed a Brady Motion to obtain the psychiatric records of West, who allegedly has a history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, aggravated by the murder of her oldest son, Shaun Glassey, who was stabbed to death five years ago.
In an interview with a Jacksonville, Fla. NBC affiliate "First Coast News," West's adult daughter, Ashley Glassey, 21, revealed the subject of conversations she had with her mother after the shooting.
"Glassey said she started to have her doubts after receiving a phone call from her mother telling her that her brother, Antonio Santiago, had been killed. She claims the night of the shooting her mother asked, 'How soon do you think life insurance policy will send me a check?,' according to the First Coast News website.
In a fourth motion, Elkins' attorneys asked the court for disclosure of exculpatory information concerning West, including previous attempts to collect on insurance policies.
"Upon information and belief, Sherry West had her child cremated almost immediately following release of the body by law enforcement officers. Sherry West packed up and disposed of his personal belongings a day or two later. Sherry West informed at least one major media outlet of a ceremony for the child she subsequently acknowledged never took place. Upon information and belief, Sherry West's bizarre response to the shooting of her son goes all the way back to her hospital admission following the shooting," the motion states.
It adds: "Sherry West is no stranger to insurance claims, and whatever her mental state she has demonstrated that she is far more intelligent and capable than she has appeared in her many media interviews. Attached hereto are pleadings which purport to have been prepared and filed by Sherry West in State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Sherry West, Superior Court of Glynnn County, Civil Action No. 11-01372-063, in which it was alleged that Sherry West 'negligently' started a fire."
West's ex-husband, Louis Santiago, who lives across the street from his ex-wife, is also a felon - aggravating stalking of stalking of Sherry West in 2009 - and told police he was at a Wal-Mart when the shooting, but gun primer residue was found on his hand, according to a motion filed in the case.
"The results of the GSR Examination on Santiago is significant as it suggests Santiago, a convicted felon, had discharged a firearm at or about the same time that his son was shot," the motion states.
"Santiago asserted an 'alibi' defense, claiming to have been at Wal-Mart at the time of the murder. Santiago's purported 'alibi' is particularly suspect given the murder occurred at 9:12 A.M., but according to law enforcement did not arrive at Wal-Mart in Brunswick until no earlier than 9:34 A.M.," according to the motion.
Neither Sherry West nor Luis Santiago are considered suspects in Antonio Santiago's death.
Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson represents the state.
Glynn County Public Defender Kevin Gough represents De'Marquise Elkins and Karimah Elkins, who will be tried together.
Dominique Lang, Katrina Elkins and Sabrina Elkins will be tried separately in Glynn County.
The trial is expected to last two weeks.