Prosecutors in the De’Marquise Elkins baby stroller murder trial began opening statements before an all-white jury of five women and seven men in Cobb County (Ga.) Superior Court.
Elkins, 18, is accused of killing 13-month-old Antonio Santiago with a 22-caliber handgun as he sat in his stroller on March 21, 2013 during an attempted robbery of the child’s mother, Sherry West, as she was pushing the toddler in a stroller not far from her home in Brunswick, Ga. West also shot but survived.
The alleged accomplice, Dominique Lang, 15, will be tried in a separate trial and scheduled to be a key witness in this first-degree murder case. Both face life in prison if convicted.
Elkins’ mother, Karimah Elkins, is also on trial for obstruction of justice by lying to police about her son’s whereabouts, and tampering with evidence by allegedly retrieving the murder weapon and tossing it into a murky ravine after she learned her son supposedly committed the crime.
The trial was moved from Glynn County, Ga. to suburban Atlanta (Marietta), about four hours away, due to concerns that Elkins and his mother would not be able to get a fair trial due to overwhelming publicity in Brunswick, Ga., the site of the killing.
“Sherry West and the toddler were shot. The motive was robbery,” said District Attorney Jackie Johnson began. “And when it didn’t happen immediately when Mr. Elkins thought it should, his reaction was to shoot.”
These are some of the main points of Johnson’s case.
Relatives of Dominique Lang, the alleged accomplice were concerned with the way the boy who was with Dominique (De’Marquise Elkins) was acting. They knew something was going on because police were all over the area, responding to the scene where the baby was shot.
- That the version of the events that Dominique Lang gave police will were very similar that Sherry West gave — that there were two young black males, that the shooter did have on a red shirt, that he did demand money, (and) he did have a small gun.
- That Dominique Lang and De’Marquise Elkins met up that morning, just before 9 o’clock at the Glenvilla Apartments. These are government housing. They have camera systems and video … you will see Dominique Lang in a black sweatshirt; roughly about the same time, you’re going to see De’Marquise Elkins with a red shirt on, and a chain and a little black cap.
- That at some point, Elkins told Lang that he was “looking for someone to rob.” Johnson said that the two then proceeded to Cherry Street, near where Sherry West lives, and it was at that time that West “intercepted” the two males.
- At that time, as Lang later told police, Elkins pulled out a gun and tried to rob West, shot the baby and shot the mother and both ran from the scene.
- That Elkins hid the gun at the apartment of a friend, where later found police found a 22-caliber bullet matching the kind that was used to kill the infant Antonio Santiago.
- That later, after Elkins was taken in for questioning, Elkins mother and sister — Karima Elkins and Sabrina Elkins — showed up at the friend’s apartment and retrieved the gun and later tossed the 22-caliber gun in Salt River Farm.
- That police divers later retrieved the 22-caliber gun from that same lake days later and taken to a crime lab for testing. District attorney Johnson said the bullet fragments retrieved from Sherry West’s leg and the infant baby’s head are consistent with being fired from that 22-caliber gun.
- That a Brunswick police detective working the case believed that the evidence sounded very similar to a crime that took place 10 days earlier that had not been solved, where the motive was robbery and someone was shot with a small-caliber handgun.
- Ten days earlier, on March 11, a Hispanic minister was the victim of a robbery attempt. This time there were three young black males, and one of the males pulled out a small-caliber handgun and demanded the minister’s wallet and cell phone. When the minister didn’t respond fast enough, he was shot through the arm by a 22-caliber handgun.
- That the minister later identified De’Marquise Elkins as the young man who shot him.
- That there were two witnesses who will testify that they saw Elkins pull out a gun and shoot the Hispanic minister.