Mother testifies, identifies defendant as toddler's killer

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MARIETTA, Ga. — The mother of a baby who was fatally shot in his stroller testified at a murder trial Tuesday that she threw her arms across her baby in a bid to save him.

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Sherry West, mother of slain toddler Antonio Santiago, testifies in court during the trial of De'Marquise Elkins.  JOHNNY CRAWFORD/ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JOHNNY CRAWFORD/ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sherry West, mother of slain toddler Antonio Santiago, testifies in court during the trial of De'Marquise Elkins.


Sherry West cried as she told the court what happened as she walked home from the Brunswick post office March 21 with her 13-month-old son, Antonio Santiago. Two teenagers approached her, and the older one demanded money, West testified.

De’Marquise Elkins, 18, faces life in prison if convicted of murder.

West spoke of her interaction with the older teen who approached her. “I told him I have a baby and I have expenses and I didn’t have it,” she testified.

The teen threatened the baby when she refused to give him money a second time, she said.

“He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby,” West said. “I said, ‘Don’t shoot my baby.’ ”

She said he fired a shot into the ground, then another shot that grazed her ear and another that hit her leg. He then turned to the baby.

“I tried to stop him,” she said. “I put my arms over my baby, but he still shot him.”

Afterward, the teen tried to grab her purse and hit her in the head with his gun, she said, adding she screamed for help and both ran.

Asked by prosecutor Andrew Ekonomou if the shooter was in the courtroom, West said he was. She pointed at Elkins. He showed no emotion. The courtroom was packed with spectators Tues­day. Jurors scribbled notes, at least one dabbing her eyes. The defendant’s mother yawned.

Elkins faces life in prison if convicted of murder. At the time of the shooting he was 17, too young to face the death penalty if convicted under Georgia law.

Prosecutors have said information from Elkins’ mother and sister led investigators to a pond where they found a revolver. Karimah Elkins is standing trial alongside her son on charges of evidence tampering and lying to police. His sister was charged with evidence tampering.

De’Marquise Elkins’ attorney, Kevin Gough repeatedly attacked West’s credibility.

He repeatedly asked her how she could be certain it was Elkins, rather than accomplice Dominique Lang, who shot the baby and asked questions about her interview with police that seemed to indicate that she had expressed uncertainty about the shooter’s identity.

Gough asked West about medications she takes for conditions including bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoia. He had her look at a list of side effects of her medication, including memory problems, hallucinations and impaired vision. He asked whether she was suffering from a psychotic episode during questioning by police.

He also questioned her choice of walking route to and from the post office and asked why she would take a walk with her baby if she knew the neighborhood to be dangerous.

Morris News Service reporter Walter Jones contributed to this report.


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