MARIETTA, Ga. — The prosecution’s star witness in the Brunswick baby murder trial that made national headlines, the mother of the slain infant Sherry West, originally selected a photo of the light-skinned Dominique Lang, 15, as her shooter from a stack of pictures that Brunswick police officers showed her of the teens who skipped school the day of the shooting.
It wasn’t until the following morning, when officers came to her house, that she identified darker-skinned, bigger and older Dominique Elkins, 18, from a photo lineup as the one who tried to rob her and then killed her 13-month old son, Antonio Santiago, as he laid in his baby stroller. Defense attorney Kevin Gough also successfully got the grieving mother to admit that she suffers from diagnosed mental problems and that her medication can induce a battery of dramatic side affects such as depression, suicidal thoughts and hallucinations.
West’s heavily anticipated appearance Tuesday afternoon in the Cobb County Superior Court was met with a packed courtroom of observers and rapt attention from jurors — and the defendant Elkins. The 42-year-old mother told the courtroom that she was mailing off letters at the post office on a crispy, cool day and was returning back home with her son Antonio when she saw two young boys walking towards her the same sidewalk on Ellis Street in Brunswick’s historic South End. She moved to her right to give the teens room to pass when the confrontation began. She testified that Elkins wasted no time getting to the point.
“The big one approached me and said for me to give him money,” West said through her sobbing and frequent dabbing of her eyes in Cobb County Superior Court. “I told him I didn’t have any. I told him I have a baby and I have expenses. He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby. I told him not to shoot my baby.”
Elkins is being tried for murder in Antonio’s death and aggravated assault in West’s wounding during what prosecutors say was a botched armed robbery attempt.
Elkins is also being tried for a similar type robbery that took place just 10 days before the Sherry West shooting and baby murder on March 21.
Elkins sat at the defense table with his mother Karima Elkins, who is charged with lying to police and tampering with evidence by disposing of the alleged murder weapon.
West told how Elkins fired a warning shot into the ground, then slapped her with the pistol before firing another round at her head as she ducked. Next, he shot her in the leg, West said.
“He walked around and shot my baby,” she said. “I tried to stop him. I put my arms over my baby, but he still shot him.”
“Is it possible you may be mistaken in identifying Mr. Elkins?” Gough asked.
“No. Mr. Elkins was standing right in front of me,” she said.
Gough also tried to dismantle West’s story and motives on a variety of fronts Tuesday afternoon by noting to the jury the following:
That West took out a life-insurance policy on her infant about a year before his death and that she cashed immediately after Antonio’s murder;
That West has financial motive for his killing because she is unemployed and lives off social security and food stamps;
That her boyfriend and father of the child, Louis Santiago, was unable to pay child support nor even buy the tot a pair of shoes, leaving her struggling financially;
That West and Louis Santiago, was was recently in jail for stalking West, both had gun residue on their hands even though Santiago said he was not with West when his son was killed in his stroller
That West admits that she is bipolar and suffers from a personality disorder and paranoia, though she denies that she is schizophrenic as her daughter, Ashley Glassey, has told the media. She admitted in an unsolicited moment of truth in court that she had trouble sitting in the courtroom with all the people. “It makes me very uncomfortable,” she blurted out without provocation;
That West did not deny that the two types of medication prescribed to her have warning labels that state they can cause suicidal thoughts, depression, blurred and double vision, changed vision and trouble with thinking;
Gough pointed out in police reports that several witnesses in the area said they did not see any black boys running from the scene;
That West originally testified that the boys ran away in the opposite direction than what they could have actually done;
That West’s daughter, whom West lost when Ashley Glassey was 8 years old; was angry that her mother called her on the day that her baby was shot and asked how quickly can she get the insurance money from Gerber Life Insurance. West’s mental issues led the state to take away her children 12 years ago, daughter Ashley Glassey and son Shaun Glassey. Shaun was eventually killed when he tried to ambush another kid with a steak knife in a dark alley and the victim got ahold of the knife and stabbed Shaun to death. Ashley is currently in jail on unrelated charges.
Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen D. Kelley stopped the cross-examination of West by Gough after more than four hours and recessed the jury. The defense cross of West will continue on Wednesday, Aug. 28