MARIETTA, Ga. — A Mexican-American pastor from Brunswick, Ga., told the court that he was the victim of a similar robbery attempt by murder suspect De’Marquise Elkins just 10 days before Sherry West says Elkins tried to rob her before shooting her and killing her infant baby.
Wilfredo Calix Flores, pastor of Upper Room Ministries on the South End of Brunswick, testified that Elkins was the gunman who — this time accompanied by two other teens — tried to rob him less than two weeks before the Sherry West robbery attempt that made national headlines.
According to his testimony, Elkins and two other teens approached him and his church associate as they fixed a gate outside the church in an alley. Like with the West episode, Flores said Elkins demanded his wallet and, when he failed to produce what Elkins allegedly demanded, Elkins shot him through the left arm and emptied his .22 caliber revolver shooting at the Hispanic church associate that took off running down the alley to get away.
However, defense attorneys were able to establish that Flores misidentified Elkins as a muscular black man with a green shirt on. But Elkins is very slender, short and he had on a red shirt that day, according to the cameras investigators obtained from the McIntire housing project on March 11.
Much like what allegedly happened in the West baby murder case, pastor Flores told the court that Elkins was the aggressor and the only one to speak during the confrontation that took place at approximately 6:30 p.m. on March 11.
“The one on the right (whom Flores identified as Elkins) who pulled out the revolver,” Flores proffered to the jury, speaking through an interpreter because he said his English is not that good.
“What kind of gun was it?” asked Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson.
“It wa a .22 (revolver); I don’t know,” Flores answered. “He was older than the other two.”
“What did he do?” inquired Johnson
“He pulld the revolver out and he started threatening me. And he said give me your cell phone,” Flores said.
“And what did you do?” Johnson continued with the questioning.
“I stayed quiet but he was asked me for his cell phone. And then he came towards me and then he communicated that he wanted my wallet,” Flores responded.
“My companion was the one who answered him because I was in shock,” Flores continued. “It was Clever (his companion) the one who said I didn’t have any money.”
When he didn’t produce what Elkins allegedly asked, that’s when Elkins supposedly pulled the trigger
“And then he cames towards me and then he shot me.”
After the bullet pierced a small hole through his arm, Elkins allegedly shot at Flores’ companion until the gun was empty. Meanwhile Flores went inside the church “to pray.”
Defense attorneys countered Flores’ accuracy of his accounts of the March 11 confrontation on multiple fronts, mainly:
That Flores told police that Elkins has facial hair: “Do you remember that the guy who shot you did not have a mustache?” defense attorneys asked. “Yes,” responded Flores.
“You remember telling police that he had on a green shirt?,” defense attorneys asked. “Yes,” Flores admitted.
“Do you remember at first saying the man that approach you was very muscular?” the defense asked.
“Yah, he looked strong. He was wearing short sleeves and he was pointing the gun,” Flores responded through the interpreter, getting up to extend his hands in a shooting motion as Elkins allegedly did.
“Was the same person who asked for you the wallet the one holding the gun?” defense asked. “The same one.”
“At fist you told police that one person held the gun and another person asked for the wallet?” defense pressed Flores, who responded with “I don’t remember that.”
When he was asked about his recollection of a green shirt again, Flores said. “Truth is, that I don’t remember color of his shirt … I wasn’t able to focus on like color of thirt. I was focused on the danger in front of me.”
Defense attorney pressed Flores about his knowledge alleged friendship Louis Santiago, the father of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago, before the shooting of Antonio. Flores knew Santiago before for about 18-months before shooting, because Santiago used to live across the street from pastor Flores church. He told the court that he only spoke to him briefly on occasions about joining his church and accepting God into his life. He said he didn’t know that the Brunswick baby was his son until after Santiago had long moved away and it was Flores’ wife who informed him.