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Testimony to continue Thursday in Elkins murder trial

8:24 AM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- Testimony continues Thursday in the murder trial of a Brunswick teenager.

The trial has been moved to suburban Atlanta because of pretrial publicity of the case in the media.

De'Marquise Elkins is charged with shooting and killing 13-month-old Antonio Santiago in his stroller.

The teenager is being tried as an adult, but has plead not guilty to all charges.

Under Georgia law, Elkins is not eligible for the death penalty, but if convicted he could face life in prison.

Prosecutors argue Elkins attempted to rob Santiago's mother, Sherry West, at gunpoint.

West, according to the state, was pushing her son in his stroller while walking home from the post office around 9:15 a.m. on March 21.

In court on Wednesday, Angela Smith, an investigator with the Brunswick Police Department, concluded her testimony for the state.

Smith oversaw the suspect identification process with West and was first to start questioning her after the fatal shooting.

Smith testified that West was able to positively identify Elkins as the person who shot and killed her son.

But during cross-examination, Public Defender Kevin Gough attempted to poke holes in Smith's investigative work.

Gough claimed West gave varying accounts of a suspect and that she had known vision problems.

Gough also claimed Smith disregarded an admission from West that she was suffering from paranoia and other mental conditions.

One telling moment for the defense came when Smith admitted at one point West was a suspect in the case.

"One would have to assume you have to start with who you have in front of you, and at that time Ms. West was the only witness to this case that I could speak with," Smith said.

West was never arrested and is not facing any charges in connection to her son's death. She is expected to testify.

Dominique Lang, a co-defendant in the case, took the witness stand on Wednesday as well.

But his testimony was not heard by the jury. It came during a special hearing to determine if he could be a credible witness.

Lang, who is in police custody, wore a navy blue jumpsuit and gave muffled, but direct answers to attorneys when answering questions.

Prosecutors believe Lang will help them convince the jury Elkins was the one who fired the bullet that killed Santiago.

On the stand, Lang positively identified Elkins based on clothes he said he remembered Elkins wearing the day of the crime.

"Do you recognize the closing on that person? Yes, mam. Where do you recognize that clothing from? De'Marquise."

But the defense believes Lang's version of events is not reliable.

"He can't remember virtually anything. He can't remember simple things," said Assistant Public Defender Jonathan Lockwood.

Lockwood told the court Lang had trouble identifying Elkins accurately during a police interview and that he lied to officers.

Lang did admit in court he lied to police four times.

He also testified he did not know Elkins before the fatal shooting, but that the two met up two times on March 21.

"She (West) came around the stroller. He (Elkins) was still arguing about the purse, and I was in panic mode by then and didn't move," Lang said.

Lang said after the shooting he took off and lied to police out of fear.

"I was scared they were going to get me for something I didn't do," he said.

Ultimately, Kelley decided to allow Lang to testify in front of a jury, but it is unclear when that will happen.

Lang's great aunt, Deborah Obley, also testified on Wednesday.

She said on the morning of the shooting, Elkins, Lang and her nephew, Joe Lang, were at her mother's house.

She said Elkins, who she said she didn't know at the time, was acting strangely.

She also testified to seeing the impression of a gun in his pants, but that she lied to police about who was at her mother's house.

First Coast News

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