Teen denied bond in baby's killing

Judge wants trial for De'Marquise Elkins before year ends

Published On: Apr 09 2013 05:27:28 PM EDT   Updated On: Dec 11 2013 06:00:12 PM EST
De'Marquise Elkins in court
BRUNSWICK, Ga. -

A teenager charged with fatally shooting a baby during an attempted street robbery was denied bond Friday.

Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley denied a request for bond for 17-year-old De'Marquise Elkins after about an hour and a half of testimony.

Elkins is charged with malice murder and other counts in the March 21 slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago (pictured, below). Authorities say Elkins shot the child in his stroller and wounded the baby's mother just a few blocks from their apartment in Brunswick.

Elkins' attorney, Kevin Gough, has said he's innocent.

DOCUMENTS: New defense motions in De'Marquise Elkins case

"He's a young man with no prior felony convictions," Gough said. "You're presumed innocent until proven guilty, and I don't know any defense lawyer that hasn't tried to get a bond for their client on any charge. But the court's ruled. We're moving on. We're getting ready for the trial of this case."

Gough argued that his client would be under close supervision of relatives, especially his great-grandfather, and they would guarantee he'd show up for court. He said prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prove Elkins was involved in Santiago's killing.

Antonio Santiago

Prosecutors said Elkins needed to remain in jail because he is a danger to society. They brought in a Glynn County investigator who said tattoos on Elkins' body (pictured, below) and comments on his Facebook page suggest he is involved in gang activity, possibly the People Nation Gangs and the Bloods.

The defense countered, saying Elkins did have tattoos, but may have been a poser and didn't know the nature of his comments or markings.

Prosecutors also pointed to the fact that no one could prove that Elkins was going to a school at the time of the shooting, and he had no permanent address, but rather floated around different places. They also pointed to Elkins' conviction in July of possession of marijuana and giving a false name to police.

Ultimately, the judge said because of the nature of the crime, possible gang ties, and no real stable household for Elkins, the teen would be a "significant risk" and "danger to the community."

Prosecutors have also charged 15-year-old Dominique Lang with murder in the case. Court records identify him as an accomplice to the slaying.

De'Marquise Elkins tattoos Lang was not in court Friday, nor were any of Elkins' relatives who were also arrested in the case. But relatives of Lang's were there.

"I just trust God and I believe in my grandson that he didn't have anything to do with this," Lang's grandmother, Anita Brennon, said.

Police found a gun they believe is the murder weapon in a saltwater pond days after the killing.

The defense is considering putting a gag order motion before the court to suppress evidence and witnesses from the media.

Investigators with the District Attorney's Office must give their discovery material to the defense on May 10.

Elkins is due back in court May 24, when the judge will consider setting a trial date. Judge Kelley said he hopes to dispose of the case by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Gough filed a new motion Friday asking that Santiago's mother, Sherry West, be compelled to submit to drug testing to see what's in her system, whether it be prescription drugs, as she's said she takes, or illegal drugs.

Gough previously filed a motion seeking access to West's psychiatric records. This new motion again calls into question "whether she can accurately recall events" surrounding the killing of her son and "whether she played a more active role in the death of her son than she has acknowledged."

In addition, the filings now refer to West as a material witness. Gough questions why West almost immediately cremated her son's body and characterizes her behavior after the killing as "bizarre." He asks the state to disclose any evidence that West owns an insurance policy on the life of Santiago, which she's acknowledged, and whether she "stood to benefit financially" from his death.