After deliberating for roughly two hours, a jury found De’Marquise Elkins guilty of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby between the eyes during a botched robbery attempt earlier this year in Brunswick, Georgia.
The jury also found his mother, Karimah Elkins, who was on trial alongside her son, guilty of tampering with evidence, but acquitted her on the charge of lying to police.
The jury found Elkins, 17 at the time of the shooting, guilty on all counts, including malice murder and felony murder.
Elkins faces life in prison in a trial that was moved from Glynn County in south Georgia to Cobb County because of the intense publicity surrounding the case, which commentators latched onto because of the brutality of the crime.
Elkins showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
In its closing argument, the defense claimed that the state’s case was built on the word of a “liar,” “a crackhead” and a mother—Sherry West, mother of slain 13-month-old Antonio Santiago—who behaved in “a rather bizarre way” after her baby was shot.
“They didn’t care what sort of witnesses came forward in this case,” defense co-counsel Jonathan Lockwood said. “As long as they made a statement against De’Marquise Elkins, they could care less.”
The defense attacked the tactics of the police in Brunswick and Glynn County police, saying they rushed to a conclusion and just accepted the word of unsavory witnesses to satisfy the narrative adopted by investigators.
“We have our arrest. We finished in 25 hours. We’re done,” Lockwood said. “Everything they did after that was made to sugarcoat it.”
The police contended that Elkins acted with an accomplice, Dominique Lang, 15, who gave a confession.
The defense claimed that the baby’s mother initially identified Lang from a series of photographs of truants from Glynn County schools, but that claim was disputed by prosecutors.
Lockwood said police should have looked more closely at the baby’s mother.
“Asking the hard questions of Sherry West could’ve led somewhere else other than De’Marquise Elkins,” Lockwood said.
But Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson said it was the defense who lied by distorting the facts of the case.
“What the lawyers say (is) not evidence,” she told jurors. “What the witnesses on the stand say is.”
She said the mother had been unfairly scrutinized and is not the person portrayed by the defense.
“Is there a protocol for how you’re supposed to act after your child (is) shot in the face?”she said.
The prosecution played surveillance footage showing him wearing a chain necklace similar to one the baby’s mother said was worn worn by the shooter. In addition, when Elkins was arrested, a bullet that fit the murder weapon, a .22-caliber revolver, was found in his pocket.
“You lie, you hide, you run because you’re guilty,” Johnson said. “That’s the kind of thing a guilty person does.”