Defense argues jury makeup in stroller toddler slaying

Expert says lack of blacks on jury defy odds

MARIETTA, Ga. — A statistician testified today that the odds are 200-to-1 of random jury selection resulting in no blacks to judge a Brunswick, Ga., man accused of shooting a toddler to death in his stroller.


The testimony of Jeffery Martin, an Atlanta statistician who frequently testifies for defendants, dominated the morning in the case against De’Marquise Elkins, 18.

“What the statistics are telling us is that there’s something other than random going on,” Martin said.

Elkins is being tried as an adult even though he was 17 when 13-month-old Antonio Angel Santiago was shot to death in March. He is charged with the crime.

“You simply can’t expect a young black man accused of murdering a young, white child anywhere in America not to object,” said Elkins’ attorney, Kevin Gough.

Gough told Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley that he didn’t know why procedures used in Cobb County to select jurors resulted in a jury that has no blacks. He argued that it is a violation of Elkins’ constitutional right.

The case was moved to Cobb County because of the amount of pretrial news coverage in Glynn County.

A Cobb jury administrator, Debra Mathews, testified that the three potential jurors who showed up late for duty Monday – one white man, a white woman and a black woman – were too late to be in the 48 available for Elkins’ trial. She also testified that people who had been allowed to miss jury duty for previous Cobb County trials were put to the head of the line for consideration in Elkins’ case, but she said she couldn’t say whether those people were more likely to be white.

Kelley has allowed Gough to make his case about the jury makeup, but he hasn’t been swayed, saying that a computer randomly picked who was called to jury duty and then shuffled those who showed up.

“It’s not even random once, but it’s random twice,” Kelley said.

Prosecutors say Elkins killed Antonio when he and co-defendant Dominique Lang, 14, came upon the child’s mother, Sherry West, pushing the stroller. They allege the shooting was because West refused when Elkins tried to rob her.

Lang is being tried separately because he is supposed to testify against Elkins. Being tried with Elkins is his mother, Karimah Aisha Elkins, 36, who is accused of hiding the .22-caliber gun used in the shooting and lying to the police.

Opening statements are expected this afternoon. The attorneys predicted the case would last all week and possibly part of next week.