By KATE BRUMBACK, Associated Press
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A man accused of fatally shooting a baby in coastal Georgia hid a gun at a relative's apartment the day after the slaying, and his mother and sister came to get it, a woman who lives in the home said Monday.
Danielle Williams testified that De'Marquise Elkins came to her home March 22, the day after 13-month-old Antonio Santiago was shot to death in his stroller, and asked if he could hide a gun under a loveseat. Later that day, Elkins' mother and sister came by the apartment and left with the gun, Williams said.
Williams' father-in-law, Ronald Elkins, who said he's a third cousin of De'Marquise Elkins, testified he was sleeping that morning and was awakened by noise. He went downstairs and found Karimah and Sabrina Elkins — De'Marquise Elkins' mother and sister, respectively — lifting the loveseat and pulling out a gun.
Concerned for his young grandchild in the home, Ronald Elkins took the revolver, emptied the bullets and returned the gun and bullets to Karimah Elkins, he said.
Prosecutors say 18-year-old De'Marquise Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, stopped Antonio's mother, Sherry West, as she returned home from the post office with her son. Prosecutors say the older teen pointed a small .22-caliber revolver at West and demanded money. West did not immediately hand over her purse, and the child was shot. West was shot in her leg, and another bullet grazed her ear.
The killing in the port city of Brunswick drew national attention, and the trial was moved to the Atlanta suburb of Marietta because of extensive publicity. Elkins faces life in prison if convicted of murder. At the time of the shooting he was 17, too young to face the death penalty under Georgia law.
Prosecutors have said information from Elkins' mother and sister led investigators to a pond where they found the revolver. Karimah Elkins is on trial alongside her son on charges of evidence tampering and lying to police. Elkins' sister also was charged with evidence tampering.
Willie Merrell, who described himself as a good friend of Karimah Elkins, testified that he picked up Karimah and Sabrina Elkins the day after the shooting and took them to a fishing pond where he catches bass. At one point, Merrell heard a splash but didn't see anything, he testified.
A diver with the Emergency Management Agency and a police captain both testified that a small .22-caliber revolver with an empty chamber was pulled from that same fishing pond a few days later.
Brian Leppard, a firearms expert with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified the bullets that hit West and her son were made by different manufacturers and had different coatings, but he said they could have been fired from the same gun. He also testified that they could have been fired from the gun pulled from the pond.
On cross-examination by attorney Kevin Gough, Leppard said it was also possible the bullets were fired from different guns. Gough mentioned the possibility of a domestic dispute and his questions seemed intended to bolster a suggestion that the real killers are the child's own parents.
Prosecutors said they expect to wrap up their case Tuesday, and West will likely testify. The defense attorneys for Karimah and De'Marquise Elkins said they would need about two days to present their defense arguments.
Lang, the suspected accomplice, took the stand last week and testified that De'Marquise Elkins twice counted down from five and threatened the baby before the deadly shot was fired. Lang saw Elkins fire one shot at the ground and another at West's leg, and he heard a third shot but didn't see Elkins shoot the baby, he testified.
Defense attorneys challenged Lang's credibility, going through a transcript of what Lang told police the day after the shooting, pointing out some inconsistencies and getting the teen to admit to lying more than a dozen times.
Lang will be tried later.