MARIETTA, Ga. — Brunswick, Ga., Police Detective Angela Smith admitted to Brunswick Judicial District Attorney Jackie Johnson that she initially believed Sherry West shot and killed her own infant child, Antonio Santiago, because the mother’s story was too bizarre to believe.
Somewhere along the line, however, police from Brunswick, Glynn County and GBI focused their attention on the testimony provided by the wounded but mentally unstable mother, who said two black males accosted her and that the shooter had “thick eyebrows.”
“Did you consider Sherry West a suspect in this case?” Johnson asked the detective in the courtroom.
“Somewhat … yes,” Smith said.
“Because it was just hard to believe,” Smith said.
Soon thereafter, however, Smith eliminated West as a possible suspect and Glynn County Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation because of a lack of manpower in Brunswick.
Smith admitted to defense attorney Kevin Gough that West was not further investigated as a suspect despite the following circumstances:
- West had an older son who was killed earlier in a knife fight in New Jersey;
- West is known to suffer from multiple mental disorders;
- Her poverty gave her a motive for killing her child for a life-insurance payout;
- West’s daughter gave public statements that stated she didn’t believe her mother because she kept changing her story and that she asked about insurance payouts immediately after Antonio’s death. West lost custody of the daughter, 21-year-old Ashley Glassey, when Glassey was 8 years old. Glassey said on multiple occasions that her mother is bipolar and has “schizophrenic tendencies” and takes medication to modify her behavior.
- West had soiled herself prior to questioning at the Brunswick police headquarters after the shooting death of her infant son, Antonio Santiago.
According to reports, West’s older son was killed in New Jersey when he attacked someone else with a knife. During the struggle, the victim turned the tables and killed West with his own knife. The intended victim was never charged.
West’s behavior after the shooting should have raised the suspicions of investigators, defense attorney Kevin Gough said. But the detective replied that under the circumstances, the behavior was expected.
“She had just observed her baby shot in her presence and she was shot herself,” Smith said.
De’Marquis Elkins’ defense attorney said Smith should had been tipped off when West wet herself before being questioned at Brunswick Police headquarters, Gough added.
Smith, however, said that episode was not unprecedented during her tenure as detective, so she had no reason to believe it was a sign of guilt.
Smith may be called back to the witness stand in the De’Marquise Elkins murder trial, Glynn County Judge Stephen Kelley said.