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Judge denies bond for accused Brunswick toddler killer

4:21 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- A Brunswick teenager who is charged as an adult in the shooting death of a toddler will remain in jail for now.

De'Marquise Elkins, 17, appeared in Glynn County Superior Court on Friday morning for a bond hearing.

Judge Stephen Kelley heard testimony from three witnesses before ruling in favor of the state and denying bond for Elkins.

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"The defense has failed to meet its burden of proof," Kelley said.

The first witness was Elkins' great grandfather McKinley Elkins, Jr., 78, of Brunswick.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough attempted to use Elkins, Jr. to paint a picture of a hometown teenager who went to church and had good intentions.

Elkins, Jr. claimed to see his great grandson almost every day and told the court he would not cause any trouble if granted bond.

Yet, during cross examination, Elkins, Jr. failed to positively identify where his great grandson lived or went to school.

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Kelley cited this in his reason for denying the teenager bail.

"Lack of appropriate supervision," he said.

Kelley added he ruled in favor of the state because it proved Elkins would be a flight risk, a danger to the community and would be likely to commit another felony while out on bond.

He also cited a prior conviction on Elkins' record.

In 2012, police arrested the teen two days after his 17th birthday. He was later convicted for possession of marijuana and giving a false name to police.

He said, "For all of these reasons, I am denying bond."

Prosecutors called two witnesses to the stand, both of whom are law enforcement officers in Glynn County.

The first was Mike Heath, Asst. Jail Administrator with the Glynn County Sheriff's Office.

Heath testified he saw noticeable tattoos on parts of Elkins' body while taking booking photos of him after his arrest for the murder.

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The state's second witness was Roderic Nohilly, an investigator with the Glynn County Police Department who specializes in criminal gang activity.

Nohilly testified about the significance of the tattoos on Elkins' body.

Specifically, he said Elkins had an unfilled tear drop next to his right eye, the word Karimah on his right arm with a five-point star, three burn marks in the shape of a triangle, the words "thug life" on his chest with the same three markings, a skull on his abdominal muscles with a five-point crown and the numbers "031."

Nohilly testified all of the tattoos carry meaning related to nationally known gangs like the Bloods.

Prosecutors also tied Elkins to a neighborhood in Brunswick called McIntyre Court.

Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson said the area is also known as "Moneyville," which Nohilly affirmed.

Johnson said it is a location that is drug ridden with references on social media sites, including Elkins' Facebook page.

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It is also where police arrested him for the death of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago last month.

They say he and Dominique Lang, 15, shot the toddler in the head while he was in a stroller pushed by his mother, Sherry West, who they are also accused of shooting.

Lang was not in court Friday. West's injuries were not life-threatening.

Elkins' aunt, Katrina Freeman, mentioned McIntyre Court when speaking to First Coast News on camera about her nephew's alibi for the time of the murder.

"About 11:30, I dropped Marquise off and my son off to McIntyre Court," she said.

When asked about the gang references, Gough dodged the question after the hearing.

He would only say, "When they can prove that, then we'll worry about it. But they're going to present their case. We're going to present ours."

Gough also wouldn't elaborate on his potential strategy for the trail, which Kelley said he wants to be over by the end of the year.

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A May 10 deadline is set for the state to turn over all discovery evidence to the defense.

The defense then has until May 24 to file any motions. On the same day, Kelley said he'd like to set a trial date.

Also pending is a potential gag order.

Kelley expressed concern Friday about the amount of media exposure the case is getting.

He said it could be hurting the suspect's constitutional rights to a fair trial.

Gough said he is interested in drafting a motion in support of a gag order.

First Coast News

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