COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- Jury selection begins Monday morning in the murder trial of a Brunswick teenager.
De'Marquise Elkins, 17, is accused of shooting and killing 13-month-old Antonio Santiago in Brunswick on March 21.
Elkins has plead not guilty to the charges against him and is being tried as an adult.
Authorities claim Elkins and one other teen, Dominique Lang, tried to rob the toddler's mother, Sherry West, as she pushed the boy in a stroller around 9:15 a.m.
Elkins is then accused of shooting West in the leg and the toddler in the head, killing him on the scene. West survived her injuries.
A brief search for suspects unfolded after the shootings, but an anonymous tip eventually led the teens' arrests.
A motive for the shootings has not been completely revealed, but police have said the location and the victims are believed to be random.
However, Glynn County District Attorney Jackie Johnson has in court tried to tie Elkins to gang activity based on tattoos on his body and postings on his Facebook page.
The teen's trial is happening in Cobb County because of concerns over pretrial publicity.
Cobb County is about 400 miles northwest of Jacksonville outside Atlanta.
Jury selection will happen first. It's expected the pool of potential jurors will be about 50, although only 12 will be seated with two or three alternates.
"Either way it's a tragedy. It's a tragedy for the community, it's a tragedy for both families and either way a baby is dead," said Pastor Kenneth Adkins, Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship.
Lang, 15, is charged as an accomplice and is expected to be a key witness.
"I pastor young people. De'Marquise was once a member of our church about four or five years ago, his grandmother attends our church, his two sisters, younger sisters attend our church, so it's been a tough time for that entire family," said Adkins.
Karimah Elkins, De'Marquise's mother and Katrina Elkins his aunt, were also arrested and charged with making false statements. His sister Sabrina Elkins is accused of disposing of the gun police say was used in the murder. Elkins and his mother are expected to both be tried in Cobb County.
"I'm praying for both sides of the community, I'm praying for the mother, for the father, I'm praying for De'Marquise's family. It is my hope that the proper healing takes place," said Adkins.
Pastor Adkins is also hoping this trial and every other trial that has involved youth sends a message out to the nation.
"The truth of the matter is that the justice system is a shark tank and if you don't want to get eaten by sharks then you need to stay out of the water. I'm hoping that this sends a message to all these young boys, this eruption of black and black crime, I'm hoping this sends a message that 'hey if you don't do the right thing you could be in that chair where De'Marquise Elkins is sitting and tomorrow could be a day that's the beginning of a time that's going to define the rest of your life," added Adkins.
After the teens' arrests in March, the District Attorney released a statement saying the juveniles could not face the death penalty because they were both under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.
First Coast News