BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) — The mother of a baby shot dead in his stroller took one look at a teenage suspect’s jailhouse mugshot Saturday and said he was definitely the killer. Yet an aunt of the teen said he was eating breakfast with her when the slaying took place.
Despite conflicting stories, police have charged 17-year-old De’Marquise Elkins with murder, along with a 14-year-old suspect whose name has been withheld because he’s a juvenile.
Brunswick police spokesman Todd Rhodes said even though Elkins’ aunt provided an alibi, authorities have good reason to bring the charges. “That’s what she’s saying, but the evidence we’re looking at says something else,” Rhodes said, though he would not elaborate.
Also Saturday, police in this coastal port city released 911 recordings from neighbors who sobbed and pleaded for help right after 13-month-old Antonio Santiago was shot in the head a few blocks from his mother’s apartment.
Sherry West said she was pushing her baby in his stroller as she walked home from the post office Thursday morning. She said a teenager, with a younger boy behind him, approached and asked her for money. West said when she told him she had no money, he drew a gun and said: “Do you want me to kill your baby?”
The gunman opened fire and West was shot in the leg. Another bullet grazed her left ear, she said. She watched helplessly as the gunman shot her son in the face.
Two teddy bears, a vase of flowers and a decorative cross had been left Saturday against a wooden fence near the shooting scene.
Katrina Freeman said Saturday the shooter can’t be her nephew, Elkins, because he showed up at her house Thursday at 8:15 a.m. — roughly an hour before the killing. She said she cooked eggs, grits and sausage for breakfast and that Elkins accompanied her and her children to run errands when they left at about 11:30 a.m.
“He was with us the whole time,” said Freeman. She gave police the same account of her nephew’s whereabouts. “There is no doubt in my mind that he is innocent.”
The slain boy’s mother said she picked the gunman out of a photo lineup of 24 mugshots police brought to her Friday. When a reporter showed her the photo of Elkins taken when he was booked into the Glynn County jail Friday, she wept and nodded. “He killed my baby, and he shot me, too,” she said.
At her apartment Saturday, West had filled several bags with her son’s clothes and diapers to donate to charity. She said she hopes prosecutors pursue the death penalty in the case. “My baby will never be back again,” West said. “He took an innocent life. I want his life, too.”
In 2008, West’s 18-year-old son was stabbed to death in an altercation in New Jersey. Prosecutors said the stabbing was self-defense and did not file charges.