Eighteen-year-old De'Marquise Elkins was found guilty of malice murder, felony murder and all other counts Friday afternoon in the killing of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago in a stroller on a Brunswick sidewalk in March.
Karimah Elkins (pictured, below), the teen's mother who was on trial alongside him, was found guilty of tampering with evidence and not guilty of making a false statement.
De'Marquise Elkins' other charges included attempted felony murder, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, cruelty to children, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
The 12-person Cobb County jury deliberated for about two hours after listening to the two-week trial.
"There were no winners in the courtroom today," said Kevin Gough, De'Marquise Elkins' attorney. "While the defense has the utmost respect for the court, we take exception to critical evidence being withheld from the jury, depriving our client of a fair trial."
Gough said he will appeal the conviction and fully expects to retry the case.
"Mr. Elkins will eventually be exonerated," Gough said.
Prosecutors said Elkins killed Antonio in an attempted robbery. The baby's mother, Sherry West, was also shot.
De'Marquise Elkins' defense attorney told the jury the investigation was flawed and police ignored other leads and suspects -- raising questions about the mental stability of the victim's mother, Sherry West -- while the prosecution said witnesses may have had shifting stories but video and other evidence doesn't lie.
"Maybe she (Sherry West) has some mental health issues. It doesn't make her a liar," Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson (pictured, right) told the jury.
Elkins now faces life in prison. At the time of the shooting he was 17, too young to face the death penalty if convicted under Georgia law.
As for Karimah Elkins, her attorney also addressed the jury during closing arguments.
"Did they Mirandize her? No. Not one officer Mirandized her," said Wrix McILvaine, the defense attorney for Karimah Elkins. "The judge will instruct you that if you find that she was in detention and wasn't free to leave that she needed to be Mirandized before she was questioned if you are to consider anything she says, that you have the right to remain silent, the right to have counsel the right to have counsel with her at all times before and after questioning and during questioning. She had the right to be told if she said anything that it would be used against her in the court of law."
The trial was held in an Atlanta suburb because of pretrial publicity.
Another teen, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, also faces murder and other charges in the case. He's set to be tried at a later date.
Gough asked Santiago if he had any reason to testify in a way that is favorable to the state’s case. When Santiago said he didn’t, Gough asked whether he had any pending criminal charges brought by the district attorney’s office. Santiago testified that he has a pending charge for aggravated stalking.
Gough strongly suggested in pretrial motions that the real killers are the child’s own parents. He has made several suggestions to the same effect during the trial. But much of his questioning that seemed to be heading in that direction – including attempts to bring up details about the backgrounds of both of the baby’s parents – has been blocked by the judge.
Santiago testified that on the morning of the shooting he, Karen, and William left their apartment building to drop William off at his job at T.J. Maxx. Santiago said he picked out juices and snacks for his young son. When the pair was at the checkout, Santiago got a call from a detective telling him his son had been shot, he testified. He and Karen ran out of the store without the groceries and drove to the hospital, he said.
Prosecutors say Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, stopped Sherry West as she walked home from the post office and demanded money. When she refused to hand over her purse, the older teen shot her in the leg and then shot the baby.
Prosecutors have said information from Elkins’ mother and sister led investigators to a pond where they found a revolver. Elkins’ sister also was charged with evidence tampering.