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Teens charged in toddler's death make court appearances

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. — Two teenagers charged with murder in the Thursday shooting death of a 13-month-old boy appeared separately in court Monday.

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A Glynn County deputy directs De'Marquise Kareem Elkins, 17, out of the courtroom after his first hearing. Elkins is charged in the death of a 13-month-old boy.   BOBBY HAVEN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A Glynn County deputy directs De'Marquise Kareem Elkins, 17, out of the courtroom after his first hearing. Elkins is charged in the death of a 13-month-old boy.

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.

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lifelongresident 03/26/13 - 07:14 am
hey we the family

hey we the family saying "well ummmm y'all white folk dont be knowin what is goings on..cause De’Marquise he a baby too..although he be 17 yrs old he likens cart toons and stuff..he dont aint not be kno what he done did do fo sho...cause he anint not be doood dis y'all say..we be gettin calls from da racist fo sho we be scared...his mom she in da cout rom with he fo sho welfare cause she fo sho not did do dis at all cause huh...what??? sho it aint true my grand son goot boy he wont not dood dis y'all racist fo sho calling him he kilt baby fo sho did not aint caint not fo sho" this is now the crap we are going to hear about this piece of crap that he mentally ill and he not fully mature..its going to be from here on out all about this piece of crap and not the poor innocent baby that was killed in cold blood...this sorry excuse for a family instead of standing up and have him accept the blame for what he did they are now attempting to humanize this monster ape-like creature in hopes that he is not executed

Grace422 03/26/13 - 12:00 pm
The AJC is reporting

That authorites have arrested the older boy's Mother & Aunt for making false statesments to PD...

Willie Loman
Willie Loman 03/26/13 - 09:26 pm

Thanks for the info Grace.

Jane18 03/27/13 - 11:46 am
Immature for their ages,

Immature for their ages, well, I wonder why? Could it be they have never been taught any kind of responsibility, go to school, be good, I would think they were not! Maybe they were raised around hate(of everything and everyone), and if hate is learned, then lying, stealing, and eventually murder will work it's way in. What a sorry bunch of relatives and a "village" these young guys came from................As a Georgian, I am so embarrassed for our state, and as a human being, I am so angry about the murder of an innocent baby.....I don't care who did it, they do not deserve to live, no matter the age, race, or sex!!! We've heard about mothers, aunt, sister, grandmother, and a great-grandfather...where are the daddies, you know the real male role models these guys needed? I hope they at least know their daddies......

CricketSeranade 03/27/13 - 03:28 pm

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.

I suppose my heart is supposed to bleed for him. This 'child' is nothing more than a cold blooded killer. Even if he is intellectually behind his peers, he still knew what he was doing when he picked up that gun and pulled the trigger. What's worse is he shows no signs of remorse what so ever. I just hope I get to spend the rest of my life paying the taxes that are going to keep him behind bars where he belongs. Odds are though that he will be out in less than two years, if he does any time at all.

scoopdedoop64 03/27/13 - 09:58 pm
This is amazing!

I was reading the story on Fox News and this is what the District Attorney said, "District Attorney Jackie Johnson of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit said in a statement Thursday she would not seek the death penalty against either suspect because Georgia law doesn't allow capital punishment for defendants charged with crimes committed before they were 18. Both teens are charged as adults.
This really makes me mad. If he is being tried as an adult why can't we go for the death penalty? This young man is going to jail and we the taxpayers end of having to take care of him. Maybe that is what he wanted all along.

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