Jurors took roughly two hours to find De’Marquise Elkins guilty of fatally shooting a 13-month-old Brunswick baby in between the eyes during a botched robbery attempt earlier this year. His mother, Karimah Elkins, was found guilty of tampering with evidence but was acquitted on the charge of lying to police.
Elkins, 17 at the time of the shooting, was found guilty on all counts, including malice murder and felony murder. He showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
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The foundation of the state’s case against De’Marquise Elkins was built on the word of a “liar,” “a crackhead” and a mother who behaved in “a rather bizarre way” after her baby was shot, the defense said in its closing arguments Friday morning.
Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson responded that it was the defense who lied, distorting the facts of the case.
“What the lawyers say (is) not evidence,” she told jurors. “What the witnesses on the stand say is.”
Jurors have begun deliberating whether Elkins, 17 at the time, fatally shot 13-month-old Antonio Santiago between the eyes on March 21 after attempting to rob the toddler’s mother on a Brunswick street corner. He faces life in prison if convicted. The trial was moved to Cobb County due to the extensive publicity that has accompanied the case.
“They didn’t care what sort of witnesses came forward in this case,” defense co-counsel Jonathan Lockwood argued. “As long as they made a statement against De’Marquise Elkins, they could care less.”
But Johnson argued that, from the onset of the investigation, evidence pointed toward the defendant.
Surveillance footage showed him wearing a chain necklace similar to one Antonio’s mother, Sherry West, said was worn worn by the shooter. When Elkins was arrested, a bullet that fit the murder weapon, a .22-caliber revolver, was found in his pocket.
“You lie, you hide, you run because you’re guilty,” Johnson said. “That’s the kind of thing a guilty person does.”
Elkins was first identified as the shooter by Argie Brooks, who police said was “frothing at the mouth” and asked for money when he approached officers with information. He received $1,000.
“You don’t pay $1,000 for bad information,” Johnson told jurors.
A confession from Dominique Lang, who is accused of being an accomplice in the shooting, followed. No trial date has been set for Lang, 15.
He admitted during testimony last week that he told more than a dozen lies to investigators. West initially identified Lang from a series of photographs of truants from Glynn County schools, according to the defense — a claim disputed by Johnson in her closing.
Lockwood said police should have looked more closely at West.
“Asking the hard questions of Sherry West could’ve led somewhere else other than De’Marquise Elkins,” Lockwood said.
West, argued Johnson, is being unfairly scrutinized and is not the person portrayed by the defense. Johnson noted that, according to medical records just prior to his death, Antonio was a “plump, happy boy.”
“Is there a protocol for how you’re supposed to act after your child (is) shot in the face?”she said.
The defense also attacked Brunswick and Glynn County police, saying they rushed to a conclusion and took the word of unsavory witnesses to satisfy the narrative adopted by investigators.
“We have our arrest. We finished in 25 hours. We’re done,” he said. “Everything they did after that was made to sugarcoat it.”
The attorney for Karimah Elkins, the seemingly forgotten defendant accused of lying to police and disposing of evidence, acknowledged his client threw a gun into nearby pond the morning after the shooting but said there’s no proof it was the murder weapon. De’Marquise Elkins’ girlfriend testified she hid the firearm at his request after the shooting occurred.
Jurors have said they are willing to deliberate into the evening hours if necessary. If no verdict is reached before the holiday weekend, they’ll resume on Tuesday.