AFRICANGLOBE – The aunt of De’Marquise Elkins said the 17-year-old was eating breakfast with her when a 13-month-old baby was shot in the head in Brunswick, Georgia, in a crime that has shocked the nation, but that didn’t stop police from arresting the teen for murder.
According to Katrina Freeman, Elkins came to her house at 8:15 a.m., about an hour before the killing of toddler Antonio Santiago, and she made him grits, eggs and sausage for breakfast. After he ate, she said he accompanied her and her children when they left the house at about 11:30 a.m. to run errands.
“He was with us the whole time,” Freeman xzic. “There is no doubt in my mind that he is innocent.”
But Brunswick police spokesman Todd Rhodes insinuated that authorities had evidence disputing Freeman’s alibi.
“That’s what she’s saying, but the evidence we’re looking at says something else,” Rhodes said, though he would not elaborate.
Elkins was arrested, along with an unidentified 14-year-old male that police said was his accomplice, after Sherry West, the slain baby’s mother, picked him out of a photo lineup of 24 mugshots police brought to her Friday.
She wept and nodded when a reporter showed her the photo of Elkins taken when he was booked into the Glynn County jail Friday.
“He killed my baby, and he shot me, too,” she said, according to the AP.
According to Sherry West’s account, she was pushing her baby in his stroller as she walked home from the post office Thursday morning when two teenagers approached her. The older teen, with a younger boy behind him, asked her for money, she said. When West said she had no money, the teen drew a gun and said: “Do you want me to kill your baby?”
She said he opened fire, shooting her in the leg, with another bullet grazing her left ear, then she watched helplessly as the gunman shot her son in the face.
At her apartment Saturday, a reporter watched as she filled several bags with her son’s clothes and diapers to donate to charity. West said she wanted prosecutors to pursue the death penalty.
“My baby will never be back again,” West said, crying. “He took an innocent life. I want his life, too.”
She said her 18-year-old son was stabbed to death in an altercation in New Jersey, but prosecutors did not file any charges because they ruled the her son was stabbed in self-defense.
Police in Brunswick said they are still searching for the gun and that no eyewitnesses have come forward.
Police released emergency call recordings from callers who said they heard gunshots and saw West take her son out of his stroller, lay him on the ground and try to revive him using CPR.
“Yes, I heard the shots. Somebody shot this child,” said a sobbing caller, who told the operator there were three shots fired. “She’s got him on the ground. Please, we need everything we can get.”
When the emergency operators asked the callers if the boy was breathing, a man finally answers, “No, the baby’s not breathing.” He says the child was shot “right between the eyes.”
A woman can be heard screaming in the background. Then the police sirens drown out her cries.
Sabrina Elkins, the teen’s older sister, said police arrested him as he came to her home Friday.
“The police came pointing a Taser at him, telling him to get on the ground,” she said. “He said, ’What are you getting me for? Can you tell me what I did?”’
She said he had returned to Brunswick a couple of months ago after living in Atlanta for a while. She said he wasn’t enrolled in high school, but had been taking classes to earn his high school equivalency diploma.
“He couldn’t have done that to a little baby,” Sabrina Elkins said. “My brother has a good heart.”
By Nick Chiles