Then his mother and sister threw it in a saltwater pond, Cobb County jurors heard from witnesses Monday.
Kicking off the second week of testimony in the case against De’Marquise Elkins, accused of killing Antonio, the jury heard how he tried to hide the .22-caliber revolver and how his family allegedly disposed of it.
The trial was moved to Cobb because of concerns about pre-trial media coverage influencing a jury, and racial tensions in Brunswick. De’Marquise Elkins is charged with murder and cruelty to children but cannot be sentenced to death because he was not 18 at the time of the shooting. His mother, Karimah, is also on trial in Cobb and is accused of giving her son a false alibi and getting rid of the alleged murder weapon.
Attorneys said Monday they expect the trial will last into next week. Antonio’s mother is expected to testify today.
Danielle Williams of Brunswick told the court De’Marquise Elkins hid the gun under her couch at a government housing complex in Brunswick on March 22, the day after Antonio was killed. She said the two are friends and grew up together.
But Williams’ first story to police was that De’Marquise Elkins didn’t leave anything in her apartment and she didn’t see a gun.
Jonathan Lockwood, defense attorney for De’Marquise Elkins, says Williams didn’t tell police about the gun until they threatened to arrest her.
“Right before you tell (police) there’s a bullet, you say, ‘I don’t want to go to jail,’” Lockwood said.
Still, her story on Monday was that she saw De’Marquise Elkins put the gun under the sofa in her small apartment.
“He asked if he could put a gun under my couch,” Williams said. She described the weapon to police as a “cowboy gun.”
Later that day, De’Marquise Elkins’ mother, Karimah, and sister, Sabrina, reportedly went to Williams’ home and retrieved the gun.
Williams said she did not direct them to the gun hiding under her loveseat. They knew where to find it.
The pair left the apartment and were driven by another friend, Willie Merrell of Brunswick, to the saltwater pond where police would eventually find the gun.
Merrell had been fishing at the pond with Karimah Elkins on several occasions.
“When I got up to the fishing spot, they was discussing something,” Merrell said. “I don’t know what they were discussing.”
Merrell said he never saw a gun and didn’t realize what happened until a few days later.
“I didn’t see them doing anything,” Merrell said. “I heard a splash, but that’s all.”
The gun was later retrieved by a Glynn County Emergency Management Agency diver after Merrell directed police to the pond.
Bullets can’t be matched to gun
A Georgia Bureau of Investigation ballistics expert said Monday he was not able to match the bullets taken from Antonio Santiago and his mother, Sherry West, to the gun allegedly used by De’Marquise Elkins in the shooting.
He also couldn’t say for certain the gun did not fire that ammunition.
The .22-caliber long rifle bullets could have been fired from the .22-caliber revolver found in a pond by police, but Brian Leppard, of the GBI crime lab in Savannah, said it’s possible they came from another .22-caliber weapon.
There’s no way to know for certain.
“Mathematically speaking, the odds that the item was used to fire (the bullets) ... would be no better than one in a million,” said Kevin Gough, lead defense attorney for De’Marquise Elkins.
Leppard said that’s a “reasonable number.”
One bullet found had a brass wash and the other had a copper wash. While those bullets could have been made from different manufacturers, they can both be fired from the type of gun recovered in the saltwater pond in Brunswick.
Though it’s possible the same firearm fired both rounds, defense attorney Gough tried to raise doubt the gun is the murder weapon, asking Leppard if two guns could have been used in the shooting.
It’s possible, Leppard said.
“Having two guns would be consistent with a domestic dispute, wouldn’t it?” Gough asked, receiving an objection from the prosecution preventing a response from Leppard.