Memorial held for slain toddler

Mother speaks as suspects in killing appear in court

Antonio Santiago
Antonio Santiago

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – As the teens accused of killing a 13-month-old boy made their first appearances in court on murder charges, the family of that boy said their final goodbyes.

Antonio Santiago's family held a private memorial for him Monday morning.

Sherry West, the child's mother, didn't attend either the ceremony or the court hearings, saying both were just too painful.

West said she is afraid to go anywhere, especially the court hearings, because she doesn't know if the shooting was random or if she might still be a target.

As for her son's memorial, she said she wants to remember her son like he was -- happy and joyful.

"I couldn't see my baby like that," she said. "He was mangled, he was shot in the head at close range. So I just couldn't. I want to remember him alive, walking around."

Dominique Lang and De'Marquise Elkins make their first appearances in court.
Dominique Lang and De'Marquise Elkins make their first appearances in court.

West said she decided to stay home instead of attending the memorial because it was too painful. The family decided to cremate his body.

"I don't want anyone to see him like that," West said. "And I want them to remember him the way he looked when he was alive."

Meanwhile, De'Marquise Elkins (pictured above on right), 17, and Dominique Lane, 15, made their first appearances before a judge. While West stayed at home, Lane's family showed up to the hearing, claiming the 15-year-old was innocent and just a witness.

West claims otherwise.

"He was there. He was there and he must have knew that he had a gun," she said. "And even if he didn't, he could have went for help."

Even though Lane's case is just entering the courts, West says she's already thinking about his sentencing.

"I think that he should be sent to a correctional facility until he's 21 and a consecutive life sentence in state prison," she said.

As for Elkins, West believes he doesn't deserve to live.

"I had to watch my baby die. I want to see him die," West said. "I'm sorry, but that's how I feel. You know what? I'm not sorry. He should be the one that's sorry."

At age 17, Elkins will never be eligible for the death penalty, if convicted, because of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although West said she didn't want to go to Monday's hearings, she said she is planning to go to the teens' trials.