Sherry West cried on the stand Tuesday in the trial of De’Marquise Elkins as she described how her 13-month-old son was shot and killed in broad daylight in Brunswick, Georgia, earlier this year.
Elkins, 18, is accused of pulling the trigger.
West testified that she was pushing her baby, Antonio Santiago, in a stroller down a street in the coastal town on March 21 when two teenagers tried to mug her. She said one of the teenagers pointed a gun at her and demanded her money.
“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’t shoot 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 then 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.”
Prosecutor Andrew Ekonomou asked, “Do you see in this courtroom today the man who shot and killed your baby?”
West continued to sob as she identified Elkins in the courtroom.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Kevin Gough grilled West about a life insurance policy she had on her child and why she was so quick to call the company the morning after the shooting. He claimed that she needed the money and didn’t realize the life insurance policy didn’t pay much, because it was designed to grow as the child got older.
West said that she knew how the policy worked. She also said she used $2,000 of the $5,000 life insurance payout to cremate her child and pay for his funeral service. She said she used the rest of the money for moving expenses.
West is expected to be the last witness prosecutors will call to the stand before they rest their case. The defense’s cross-examination of West will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Elkins, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, is facing multiple charges, including malice and felony murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is facing life in prison. The death penalty is not an option in Elkins’ case because a Georgia law prohibits anyone who is younger than 18 during the commission of a crime from being executed.
Intense media attention and public outrage pushed a judge to move Elkins’ trial from Glynn County, Georgia, to Cobb County in metro Atlanta.
The teenager accused of being Elkins’ accomplice is Dominique Lang, who was 15 at the time of the shooting. Although Lang is a minor, HLN is identifying him because he is charged as an adult, and media outlets have been naming him since his arrest.
Lang has also pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges against him, which include felony murder. He will go on trial later, separately from Elkins, and also faces life in prison.
Lang testified against Elkins earlier in the trial, identifying him as the shooter.
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