BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A Georgia grand jury has indicted a 17-year-old suspect in last week's fatal shooting of a baby in his stroller and in another unrelated shooting 10 days earlier in a robbery attempt.
The 11 counts returned Wednesday against De'Marquise Elkins include malice murder in the slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago (pictured, below). The indictment says Elkins shot the boy in the face with a .22-caliber revolver while trying to rob the child's mother in coastal Brunswick last Thursday.
The indictment charges 15-year-old Dominique Lang on seven counts including felony murder. Elkins' mother, 36-year-old Karimah Elkins, and sister, 19-year-old Sabrina Elkins, were charged with trying to dispose of the gun in a saltwater pond.
The indictment also charges Elkins with trying to rob a man at gunpoint March 11 and shooting the victim in the arm.
The shootings of the Brunswick mother and her 1-year-old son last week in which the boy was killed were random, Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said at a news conference Wednesday.
Doering said it had been a judgment call about releasing the information that the location and victims of the shootings were random, but he said investigators are now comfortable in revealing that.
(Karimah, Katrina and Sabrina Elkins pictured, right)
"This location was random and the victim was random we believe and so far, the evidence we have does not lend itself to any gang-related charges," said Doering.
Elkins' defense attorney, Kevin Gough, had strong words during a Wednesday evening media conference.
"We are deeply disappointed and troubled that this case was rushed before a grand jury prematurely," said Gough. "We are confident that numerous witnesses have yet to be interviewed and test results remain pending."
With both teens behind bars, Gough said he looks forward to proving his client's innocence.
"He is not an animal, and is innocent," said Gough.
Doering acknowledged that Sherry West, the slain child's mother who was shot, has told media outlets the shootings were the result of a robbery attempt. Doering said investigators are exploring that.
West said she was pushing her son in a stroller Thursday morning when the suspects approached and asked her for money. She said she told them she didn't have any, and said Elkins shot Antonio in the head. West said he also shot her in the leg.
Doering said West "was never a suspect in my mind," and he called the crime "a true tragedy, the worst evil imaginable."
There have been no further arrests.
Doering said there is no evidence the shootings were gang-related.
"It's obvious. We've seen the Facebook pages," Doering said. "Everyone knows what's out there. That is still being explored."
He said more search warrants have been served, more physical evidence has been recovered, and more witnesses have been identified, but gave no specifics about any of those.
Doering said there are likely even more witnesses who haven't come forward, and investigators will be looking for them.
A gun recovered Tuesday was found in a pond in a gated subdivision behind Brunswick Floors on U.S. Highway 17, just more than two miles from the shootings, Doering said. Investigators are working to see if that was the gun used in the killing. Doering said investigators will look into whether the gun was used in other crimes, which is routine.
Investigators were tipped off to the location of the gun after investigating Karimah Elkins and her 33-year-old sister Katrina Elkins. Police arrested and charged the two women with lying to police about who was with DeMarquise the morning Santiago was killed.
According to an arrest warrant, Karimah Elkins told officers she was with her son between 8 and 11 a.m. on Goodyear Avenue when she was actually being detained at the Glynn County Detention Center at that time. She was released around 10:30 a.m.
According to Katrina Elkins' arrest warrant, she told officers she was with her nephew between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on P Street, which is contrary to De'Marquise's statement that he was at another location during that time.
Gough said at a news conference earlier on Wednesday he believes the indictment came too soon.
"While I have the utmost respect for District Attorney Jackie Johnson and her very capable staff, as well as Chief Doering, (Brunswick Police) Chief (Tobe) Green, and the various law enforcement agencies that have participated in this investigation, we are deeply disappointed and troubled that this case was rushed before the grand jury prematurely," Gough said. "Time will tell, but we are confident that numerous witnesses have yet to be interviewed, that examinations and test results remain pending."
Doering on Wednesday still refused to answer the key question, whether West and the suspects know each other, saying it would harm the investigation. He would not say how long the suspects have known each other.
Lang's family has said Lang did not know Elkins.
Doering closed the news conference saying, "We have and will continue to get the truth, and that truth will come to light at the proper time."
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