De'Marquise Elkins, defendant in the Brunswick baby killing trial.
Defense attorney Kevin Gough reacts to verdict
MARIETTA, Ga. -- After less than 2 hours deliberations Friday afternoon, a Cobb County jury found Brunswick teenager De'Marquise Elkins guilty on all counts in the murder of a toddler in his stroller while robbing the baby's mother on March 21.
Eighteen-year-old Elkins was charged in the shooting death of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago. He was also charged with shooting the baby's mother in the leg, as well as with shooting a pastor during a similar robbery attempt 10 days earlier.
The murder trial was moved from Brunswick to Marietta due pre-trial publicity in the case.
The counts against Elkins were as follows:
Count #1: Malice murder - Guilty
Count #2: Felony murder - Guilty
Count #3: Felony murder - Guilty
Count #4: Aggravated assault - Guilty
Count #5: Attempted armed robbery - Guilty
Count #6: Aggravated assault - Guilty
Count #7: Aggravated assault - Guilty
Count #8: Cruelty to children, 1st degree - Guilty
Count #9: Possession of a firearm while committing a felony - Guilty
Count #14: Criminal attempted armed robbery - Guilty
Count #15: Aggravated assault - Guilty
Elkins' 36-year-old mother, Karimah Elkins, was found guilty by the same jury of tampering with evidence in connection with getting rid of the pistol used in the shooting. The jury found Karimah not guilty of making false statements during questioning by police.
After the verdict, defense attorney Kevin Gough said no one won in this tragic case, but he said he would appeal what he called an unfair trial since much of the evidence he tried to present was blocked.
Prosecutor Jackie Johnson declined to comment.
The victim's mother, Sherry West, did not attend the final day of the ten day trial.
Elkins and his mother will both be sentenced later back in Brunswick.
He could get multiple life sentences plus several more years and she faces up to ten years.
Elkins was not eligible for the death penalty because he was only 17 at the time of the crime.
During the defense's closing argument earlier in the day, attorney Jonathan Lockwood, representing De'Marquise Elkins, said the prosecution's case was a rush to judgment that was full of full of holes.
"In this case the government, law enforcement, made no effort to look beyond the person they arrested," argued Lockwood.
He claimed Brunswick Police were pressured to find a killer almost as soon as 13-month-old Antonio Santiago was shot between the eyes and his mother, Sherry West, was wounded in a robbery as they traveled to and from a post office.
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Lockwood called most of the state's witnesses "thieves and liars".
He said Sherry West's memory was faulty and called her identification of potential suspects "inconsistent".
He also noted that she acted strangely during her police interrogation only hours after the shooting, occasionally laughing and joking and that she had a history of mental problems.
But prosecutor Jackie Johnson came to West's defense about her identification of Elkins and her emotional state the day of the crime.
"Does anybody know what the protocol is for how you're supposed to act when you watch your child get shot in the face?" she asked the jury.
Jackson admitted that many witnesses in the case were not the best citizens, but she insisted the evidence points to only one killer, De'Marquise Elkins.
She called him a heartless killer who preyed on the weak.
"I don't know of any other case when the killing of another person, a child, doesn't cry out for malice; that's what you have here, an abandoned heart," she said.
Karimah Elkins, De'Marquise's 36-year-old mother, is also on trial, charged with tampering with evidence for throwing the murder weapon into a salt water pond.
But her attorney argued she, too, was the victim of shoddy and abusive police work.
"You might not like my client; you may think that, well, if my son was charged with murder I wouldn't be hiding his gun, but just because it was his gun doesn't make it the murder weapon," Wrix McIlvaine claimed.
Prosecutor Jackson argued Karimah is just as guilty as her son.
"He and his mom hid the evidence; you lie; you hide; you run; you lie and hide and run 'cause you're guilty," she said.