MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — The mother of a baby who was fatally shot in his stroller in coastal Georgia testified at a man’s murder trial Tuesday that she threw her arms across her baby, trying to save him.
Sherry West cried as she told the court what happened as she walked home from the Brunswick post office March 21 with her 13-month-old son Antonio Santiago. Two teenagers approached her, and the older one demanded money, West testified.
“I told him I have a baby and I have expenses and I didn’t have it,” West said.
The teen threatened the baby when she refused to give him money a second time.
“He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby,” West said. “I said, ‘Don’t shoot my baby.’”
She said the teen fired a warning shot into the ground, fired a shot toward her head that grazed her ear when she ducked and then shot her in the leg. He then turned toward the baby in the stroller.
“I tried to stop him,” she said. “I put my arms over my baby, but he still shot him.”
After the baby had been shot, the teen still tried to grab her purse and hit her in the head with his gun, she said.
West screamed for help and both teens ran off, she said.
Asked by prosecutor Andrew Eknomou if the shooter was in the courtroom, West said he was. She pointed at De’Marquise Elkins, 18, who sat at the defense table with his lawyers and showed no emotion.
Prosecutors say Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, stopped West, and the older teen pointed a small .22-caliber revolver at her and demanded money and eventually shot the baby when West wouldn’t surrender her purse.
The killing in the port city of Brunswick drew national attention, and the trial was moved to the Atlanta suburb of Marietta owing to extensive publicity. 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 is to 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 on charges of evidence tampering and lying to police. Elkins’ sister also was charged with evidence tampering.
Ekonomou asked West if she had taken out a life insurance policy on her young son’s life. West said her son had been sick just after he was born and someone at the hospital mentioned the idea to her. She took out a $5,000 policy from Gerber Life Insurance Co., she said.
She paid a premium of $3.18 each month, and when her son was killed she cashed in the policy, she said. She used $2,000 for funeral costs for Antonio and used the balance to pay her moving expenses, she said.
Lang took the stand last week and testified that Elkins twice counted down from five and threatened the baby before the deadly shot was fired. Lang saw Elkins fire one shot at the ground and another at West’s leg, and he heard a third shot but didn’t see Elkins shoot the baby, he testified.
Defense attorneys challenged Lang’s credibility, going through a transcript of what Lang told police the day after the shooting, pointing out some inconsistencies and getting the teen to admit to lying more than a dozen times.
Lang, who also has been charged with murder, is set to be tried at a later date.