BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Two teenagers charged with murder in the Thursday shooting death of a 13-month-old boy appeared separately in court Monday.
Dominique Lang, 14, came before Glynn County Magistrate Tim Barton in the morning, and his co-defendant, De’Marquise Kareem Elkins, 17, came to court in the afternoon.
Antonio Angel Santiago was shot in the head about 9:15 a.m. Thursday as he sat in a stroller pushed by his mother, Sherry West, in downtown Brunswick. West was shot in the right thigh after another pistol round intended for her head grazed her right ear.
She described her attackers as younger than Lang and Elkins, and in court it was easy to see why.
Lang appeared small – perhaps 5 feet tall – and scared as he came into the courtroom in shackles and an ill-fitting orange jump suit. He looked younger than 14, and when Barton asked if he had questions, Lang quietly answered, “No sir.”
Elkins, who is also small for his age, was dressed in a powder blue striped shirt and khaki pants. He appeared more at ease than Lang and when Barton told him he would read him his rights, Elkins said, “OK, judge.”
Barton advised both of their rights and said that only a Superior Court judge could set bail on a murder charge.
One of Elkins’ lawyers, Assistant Public Defender Jonathan Lockwood, pressed Barton to schedule a preliminary hearing in which the district attorney would present evidence in the case. Although the hearings are intended to determine whether there is evidence to support the charges, defense lawyers often use them as early discovery.
Because District Attorney Jackie Johnson’s office is taking Good Friday off, the next possible date for a preliminary hearing would be April 4, Barton said.
Good Friday is not a county holiday but Johnson said some courthouses in the five-county circuit close for Good Friday so she follows the state calendar that allows a substitution for Confederate Memorial Day on April 22.
“It does no good to have my office open when the courthouses are closed,’’ she said.
At a preliminary hearing, the defense could get a look at the prosecution’s evidence, Public Defender Kevin Gough said. Police have said they have a videotape showing evidence of the crime, Gough said, but he has not seen it, nor does he know where it came from.
Elkins’ mother, Kareema Elkins, was in court but repeatedly refused to talk with anyone.
At a news conference, Gough presented McKinley Elkins, 78, as Elkins’ great-grandfather, who said: “The De’Marquise we know, the De’Marquise we love, would not do anything like this. De’Marquise is innocent.”
The family is concerned about “hateful, racist Internet postings” about the teen, Elkins said.
He also said the family is afraid for his and their own safety.
Gough said the fear is understandable considering there have been calls on the Internet for lynching Elkins. He said there is a Facebook page called “Execute De’Marguise Elkins.”
Gough said the baby’s death was unquestionably a tragedy but that Elkins is also a child. Although he’s 17, he does not have the maturity of someone his age, Gough said.
“His favorite TV shows are cartoons,’’ especially Tom and Jerry, Gough said.
Under Georgia law, Lang also may be tried as an adult in Superior Court. Johnson said she has not made that determination yet.
Before Lang’s arrest, he was in the eighth grade at Glynn Middle School, said Jim Weidhaas, a spokesman for the school system.
Elkins was last a student in the system in October 2011 when he left Ombudsman, an outsourced alternative school program, Weidhaas said.
Sheriff Neal Jump told Barton that Lang is being held at the state Regional Youth Detention Center in Savannah. Elkins is being held in the county jail.