De’Marquise Elkins is charged with murder and other offenses in the March 21 killing of Antonio Santiago.
Prosecutors have also accused Elkins of shooting Wilfredo Calix Flores outside a local church 10 days before theincident.
In opening statements, Brunswick District Attorney Jackie Johnson told jurors that both shootings started off as robberies.
“When it didn’t happen immediately, as Mr. Elkins thought it should, his reaction was to shoot,” Johnson alleged.
The prosecutor said Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, stopped the mother and child as they returned home from the post office.
Johnson said Elkins pointed a small .22-caliber revolver at West and demanded her money. West did not immediately comply and the child was shot. He died at the scene.
If convicted, Elkins will not face the death penalty because he was 17 at the time of the killing, too young under Georgia law to be executed.
Lang is charged as an adult with murder but will be tried separately. Authorities said Lang identified Elkins as the shooter and is expected to testify at the ongoing trial.
Defense attorney Jonathan Lockwood suggested that Antonio’s parents were somehow involved in his death, though he did not provide a precise motive. He questioned whether police focused their investigation too soon on the wrong suspects.
He said that West tried to collect a life insurance policy shortly after her son’s death.
“The police were under a great deal of pressure to see that the matter was resolved as vacation season was not far away,” Lockwood said.
He said the child’s parents both had gunshot residue on their hands. A report filed earlier by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said that gunshot residue can wind up on shooting victims. The child’s father, Louis Santiago, said during an initial court hearing that he touched the bullet wound on West’s leg before his hands were swabbed.
Prosecutors said information from Elkins’ mother and sister led investigators to a pond where they found a .22-caliber revolver. Karimah Elkins, the suspects mother is standing trial alongside her son on charges of evidence tampering and lying to police. Elkins’ sister was also charged with evidence tampering.
An attorney for Karimah Elkins, J. Wrix McIlvaine, said police had violated her rights and that she was not involved in the killing.
McIlvaine said, “None of these people had anything to do with the shooting of a child.”