Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Teen robber 'gunned down my baby'

Sherry West, mother of toddler shot Antonio Santiago, testifies in court (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnny Crawford)
De'Marquise Elkins appears in court (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Johnny Crawford)

The mother of a baby shot dead in his pushchair told a murder trial jury how she threw her arms across her son in a vain bid to save him.

Sherry West wept as she told the court in Marietta, Georgia, of the horrific events as she walked home from the post office on March 21 with her 13-month-old son Antonio Santiago.

Two teenagers approached her and the older one demanded money, Ms West said. "I told him I have a baby and I have expenses and I didn't have it," she told the court.

The teenager threatened the baby when she refused to give him money a second time. "He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby," Ms West said. "I said, 'Don't shoot my baby'."

She said the youth fired a warning shot into the ground and a shot towards her head that grazed her ear when she ducked, then shot her in the leg. He then turned towards the baby in the pushchair. "I tried to stop him," she said. "I put my arms over my baby, but he still shot him."

After the baby was shot, the teenager still tried to grab Ms West's bag and hit her in the head with his gun, she said. Ms West screamed for help and both youths ran off, she said.

Asked by prosecutor Andrew Eknomou if the gunman was in court, Ms West pointed at De'Marquise Elkins, 18, who sat at the defence table with his lawyers and showed no emotion.

Prosecutors say Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, stopped Ms West and the older youth pointed a .22-calibre revolver at her and demanded money, eventually shooting the baby when Ms West refused to surrender her bag.

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. Lang will be tried at a later date.

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 charged with evidence tampering and lying to police. Elkins' sister is also charged with evidence tampering.

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