It only took a jury about two hours Friday to find 18-year-old De’Marquise Elkins guilty of felony murder in the shooting death of 13-month old Antonio Santiago last March.
Elkins was convicted of multiple charges, including felony murder, aggravated assault and other charges for shooting pastor Wilfredo Calix-Flores during a separate mugging 10 days before baby Santiago was shot.
Elkin’s mother, Karimah Elkins, was tried along with her son. She was convicted of tampering with evidence for her role in trying to cover up the shooting. Both Elkins and his mother showed no sign of emotion as the verdict was read. They sat silently, staring straight ahead as they have throughout the entire trial, HLN reports.
Elkins could be sentenced to life in prison and won’t get the death penalty because he was only 17 at the time of the shooting. Georgia law prohibits anyone under 18 years old during the commission of a crime from being executed. His mother could be sentenced to 10 years in prison for her conviction.
The murder took place during a robbery. Elkins and another teen tried to mug the baby’s mother, Sherry West. They reportedly approached West on March 21 and shot her baby in broad daylight in Brunswick, Georgia.
“I told him I have a baby and I have expenses and I didn’t have it. He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby. I told him, ‘Please don’ts hoot my baby.’ He shot a warning shot into the ground,” West said, weeping. “I asked him, ‘Why are you doing this? Please don’t do this.’ It felt like he shot me in the ear. Then he shot me in the leg. My left leg.”
West said one of the teens did the unthinkable – he aimed for the baby.
“I tried to stop him. I put my arms over my baby but he still shot him,” she said.
“He walked over and shot my baby.”
The other teen, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, also pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges against him, which include felony murder. He will go on trial later and also faces life in prison. Lang testified against Elkins earlier in the trial, identifying him as the shooter.
During his closing arguments Friday, Elkin’s attorney, Jonathan Lockwood attacked West’s recollection of the shooting. He claimed she couldn’t confidentially identify Elkins as the shooter. He also accused her of plotting her baby’s death to profit from a life insurance policy.
“Sherry West is a woman who was very distraught, who was very emotional. But also who acted in a rather bizarre way. You saw the video of where she is laughing and cutting up with officers, and making jokes with them just after her child was murdered,” Lockwood said.
“Incidentally, does anybody know what the protocol is for how you are supposed to act when you watch your child get shot in the face,” prosecutor Jackie Johnson said during her closing argument.
Johnson called the defense’s accusation that West planned her baby’s death a “grand conspiracy” and an attempt to distract from the reality that his client is guilty.
“We have a defendant who preyed upon the weak. He preyed upon the weak when he was looking for Mexicans to rob, because he knows lots of times they can’t speak English. They are afraid. They might be here illegally. They may not even report to police,” said Johnson. “They don’t see any more Mexicans that morning. They see something even better, something even more weak, something even more vulnerable, a mother and a child.”
Johnson ended her closing argument with an emotional plea to the jury to find Elkins guilty of murder.
“This case cries out for malice,” Johnson said.