Baby-Killer Counted Down Before Shooting, Accused Accomplice Says
MARIETTA, Ga. (CN) - The man charged with murdering a baby in a stroller counted down "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" before shooting the mother and then shooting the baby in the face, his co-defendant testified Thursday.
Fifteen-year-old Dominique Lang told the jury he was with De'Marquise Elkins, 17, when Elkins approached Sherry West on a Brunswick, Ga. street on March 21, and began a tug-of-war for West's purse.
Lang, who will be tried separately for the felony murder of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago, claims he was not present when Elkins shot the baby, but that he saw Elkins hit West in the head with a gun, then shoot her in the leg, and he heard the final shot as he ran away.
"Marquise confronted Miss West. He walked up to her and asked her, 'Give me your purse,'" Lang testified.
Lang said Elkins demanded the purse two times.
"She didn't give him the purse, so he reached in his pocket for the gun and pulled it out," Lang said.
"He struck Miss West in the face with the gun. He asked for the purse a third time; he tried to reach for the purse.
"He threatened the baby. He counted down five seconds: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, then she stopped him. He asked for the purse again. She didn't give it to him."
Lang testified that Elkins shot West in leg, and that as he, Lang, ran away, he heard a third shot but did not see Elkins shoot the baby, Antonio Santiago.
Sometimes defiant, at times barely audible, Lang admitted he'd lied in previous statements.
After a barrage of questions about his inconsistent statements on whether Elkins had a gun hidden in his pants, whether he knew Elkins before March 21, and being told of a video that showed him "practicing" what to tell investigators - more than 16 lies, according to Glynn County Public Defender Jonathan Lockwood - Lang broke down, saying: "I lied, I lied, I lied, I lied."
Defense attorneys spent more than five hours challenging the memories of Dominique Lang and his third cousin, Joe Lang, both of whom have said under oath that De'Marquise Elkins is the sole murderer.
Early Thursday, Lockwood was ready to resume his interrogation of Joe Lang, who was on the stand when the trial was recessed Wednesday.
But Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley had a few words for the defense team before the jury was seated.
"We have a 15-year-old; his mother is incarcerated, and from previous testimony, he really didn't have a place a live. He slept in one place, then he slept in another. He told the court he wasn't in school the day of the murder because he didn't have any clean clothes," Judge Kelley said.
"The court has a rule of duty to protect him from embarrassment. He has no criminal support here. Yesterday he shut down when he was questioned because he could not remember where he was sleeping that night.
"I will allow the defense its cross-examination, but I'm not going to let you dwell on where he slept. How is that material?"
Pointedly, Kelley said, "If I have to, I will stop the witness and appoint an ad litem guardian to answer the questions."
Joe Lang on Wednesday refused to answer Lockwood's questions about his whereabouts the night before the murder, then Lockwood repeated the questions in an attempt to prove Lang was lying.
Joe Lang first told Lockwood, as he'd said in interviews with police, that he went to sleep on the night of March 20-21 at Prince and Wolf streets on the south side of Brunswick, "around the corner" from his great-grandmother's home.
Joe Lang stated under oath that he saw Dominique Lang and De'Marquise Elkins at his grandmother's home shortly after the baby was shot.
Then he told defense attorneys that he had slept at an apartment at Hopkins Homes, a public housing project, more than a mile away from his great-grandmother's home and from the crime scene.
Lockwood told Judge Kelley without the jury present: "[Joe] Lang should have been the main suspect in the case. If he says he was at Hopkins Home, then that is only a short distance.
"He should have been the main suspect in the case. His hair is the way the witnesses described it and the look and response he gave me yesterday is not from a 15-year-old, your honor, but from a cold-blooded killer.
"If he lied about where he slept, under oath and in a court transcript, that's perjury. Perjury is a violation of the law."
Judge Kelley, apparently irritated, replied: "Then if you are going to accuse him of that during the trial, I need to assign a guardian ad litem. Then his lawyer will shut down his testimony from the jury."
When the jury was seated, Lockwood referred Joe Lang to the question left hanging in the air Wednesday when the judge recessed court.
"Why did you say you were pretty sure about where you were, and then two seconds later, you say you are uncertain about where you were?" Lockwood had asked Wednesday.
On Thursday, he asked Joe Lang: "You've had 15 hours to think about my question. What is the answer?"
Lang, leaning back in the witness chair and slowly rocking, stared straight ahead. Contentious interactions between Lockwood and Lang continued through the laborious examination.
Lockwood restated the question.
"Do you remember looking over the transcript yesterday? You said you went to sleep at Princeton and Wolf streets that night?"
"Yes," said Lang.
"Then you said the court reporter got it wrong in the transcript. Then you said you were 'pretty sure' the court reporter got it wrong. How did you go from being sure to absolutely sure, pretty sure? You actually denied being at Prince and Wolf in previous testimony, right?"
"I don't remember," Lang said softly.
"OK, so you didn't lie on August 1 and 2, and the transcript is incorrect, and the professional is incorrect and the certified transcript is incorrect, then?"
"Is this funny, Mr. Lang?"
Lang asked Lockwood: "Can you continue?"
"Can you answer, Mr. Lang?"
"Can you continue?" Lang said again, laughing.
Lang acknowledged that he would have to cross Ellis Street - the baby was killed at Ellis and London streets - to get to his grandmother's home on Martin Luther King Street. In testimony Wednesday, Lang said he did not have to cross Ellis Street to get to Martin Luther King Street.
Lockwood asked: "That's different from what you testified to yesterday, isn't it?"
"So you would agree that what you told the jury was an incorrect statement, right? "
Under cross-examination by Wrix Mcllvaine, the attorney representing Karimah Elkins, De'Marquise Elkins' mother, Lang said he was wearing a red T-shirt and black jeans the day of the robbery and murder.
Karimah Elkins is being tried with her son, on charges of obstructing justice by hiding the .22-caliber pistol used in the shootings, and of lying to police.
Drama began Thursday in court even before the jury was seated.
Glynn County Public Defender Steven Gough filed a motion to dismiss charges against De'Marquise Elkins, for "outrageous government conduct."
Gough claims in the 7-page motion that the state withheld exculpatory evidence, indicating that Louis Santiago, the father of West's late baby, had a history of violence: including boasting that he had shot someone in the face.
"Two women have come forward to members of the defense within the last 12 hours, claiming that they had relationships with Louis Santiago where they were threatened, abused and their children threatened," Gough told the judge. "Your honor, these women never called back by Glynn County police, even though they contacted them about it."
The two women, Sandra Holboy and Angela Carter, both describe Louis Santiago - who is divorced from Sherry West - as a hard-core drug user with violent tendencies, according to Gough's motion to dismiss.
The motion states: "Ms. Holboy stated that when she knew him, Louis Santiago had a severe addiction to drugs. Mr. Santiago admitted to her that he began using heroin at nine years of age. She reported that Mr. Santiago enjoyed injecting cocaine, and that at that time he had visible track marks on his body. She states that Mr. Santiago went through drug rehabilitation in South Dakota.
"Mr. Santiago began physically abusing Ms. Holboy when she was pregnant. During one domestic dispute, Mr. Santiago threatened to hire a 'crack head' from 'the City' to kill her and her children, that he would have an 'alibi,' and that nobody would ever know that he was responsible. Santiago also attempted to extort money from Ms. Holboy; that he would put a price on the lives of her children.
"Ms. Holboy reports that Mr. Santiago lied during his testimony at the motions hearings when he suggested that he was not familiar with gunshot wounds. Mr. Santiago's sister was shot to death in New York; he knows what a gunshot wound looks like.
"Ms. Holboy stated that she called the local police department when she learned of the death of Antonio Santiago because she suspected that the father had a role in the child's death. Someone identifying themselves as a detective eventually picked up the telephone. The detective promised to call her back but she was never contacted. Based on her own training and experience, and various sounds audible during the call, Ms. Holboy believes that the conversation was recorded. The defense contends that the State deliberately declined to follow up on this critical information because it was not consistent with the State's theory of the case. Whatever the State's theory, however, this exculpatory information was withheld from the defense in violation of defendant's constitutional rights."
Gough wrote in the motion that Angela Carter, a former fiancée of Santiago, described him as "ruthless and evil," physically abusive and with a crack cocaine habit. The abuse culminated while she was pregnant, according to the motion.
"Angela Carter states that Mr. Santiago was physically abusive, and that he attempted to kill her while she was pregnant," the motion states. "Mr. Santiago also attempted to run over Ms. Carter with a truck. During a domestic dispute, Mr. Santiago threatened to kill Ms. Carter and her family. He boasted: 'By the time they find your body they won't be able to identify you.' He added: 'Your family will never see your daughter again.' Ms. Carter also has a restraining order against Mr. Santiago.
"Louis Santiago once boasted to Angela Carter that he shot a man in the face in a New York park. Santiago claimed to be 'connected.' A family member checked into Mr. Santiago's criminal background and discovered what was described to her as a lengthy criminal history in the State of New York.
"Ms. Carter described Santiago as a scammer and schemer. Ms. Carter also stated that she once traveled with Santiago to New York when his mother was sick, and that in his mother's dying days he tried to cash her Social Security check. Santiago went home after his mother died, rather than waiting for the funeral, after he figured out that he would not be receiving any money from his mother."
Santiago, who claims he was at a Brunswick Wal-Mart during the murder of his infant son, has a history of visiting Wal-Mart, according to the motion.
"Ms. Carter also states that Santiago admitted to a scheme to write bad checks at a Fernandina [Fla.] Wal-Mart store, but states that he 'got off' by claiming that he had a twin brother 'Antonio' who stole the checks and presented them at the store," according to the motion to dismiss. "Ms. Carter reports that Santiago does not have a twin brother, but that the images obtained from the security cameras at Wal-Mart were insufficient to rule out the possibility that the checks were presented by someone else who looked like him. Ms. Carter found the reference in published reports to Santiago's purported Wal-Mart alibi as 'chilling.'"
Judge Kelley is expected to rule on the motion to dismiss this morning (Friday).
Prosecutors plan to wrap up the state's case by Tuesday, Aug. 27.