MARIETTA — Jurors could decide today the fate of De’Marquise Elkins, the teenager charged with fatally shooting a Brunswick baby.
Closing arguments are set today, and then the case goes to the jury in a trial that has drawn national attention.
Louis Santiago, the father of Antonio Santiago, the toddler who was killed in March, took the stand Thursday during the last day of testimony in the case of his 13-month-old son’s death as defense attorneys tried to poke holes in his testimony.
Santiago said he began his day having breakfast with a friend, rode with him to work at a retail store and then went to Wal-Mart with another friend.
He got the call his baby had been injured when he was inside a Wal-Mart.
“I ran, left everything on the checkout counter,” said Santiago, of Brunswick, adding he was buying food and juice for his son.
A photo taken from a surveillance video shows Santiago entering and leaving the store.
De’Marquise Elkins, of Brunswick, is accused of shooting the child and his mother, Sherry West. West survived the shooting.
The trial was moved to Cobb County because of concerns over media coverage and racial tensions.
Kevin Gough, lead defense attorney from Brunswick, said Santiago’s account wasn’t the whole story.
Driving from his home to Wal-Mart, Santiago would have taken a route that put him about a block and a half away from the scene of the shooting.
“So why are we up here going through all this testimony when you acknowledge you were half a block away?” Gough asked Santiago.
Santiago said he would have heard something if he were that close.
His account is that he went straight to Wal-Mart, but West, the baby’s mother, previously testified Santiago stopped by her apartment to ask what items she needed him to purchase for Antonio. An ex-wife and ex-fiancee testified during a hearing Wednesday without the jury present that Santiago was abusive, “evil,” and “capable of murder.”
The defense received a blow when the two women were not allowed to testify Thursday because Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley said it was not relevant to the case.
Santiago has not been charged with a crime related to the death of his child but is in jail for violating his probation after being convicted of aggravated stalking in McIntosh County, just north of Brunswick. He is set to be released from jail soon. Wright Culepepper, the chaplain at the hospital where West was treated, said his observation was that Santiago was unemotional after learning of his son’s murder.
Santiago told another story, one of affection and caring.
“I even spent the night with her,” Santiago said.
Closing statements coming today
The Cobb jury will begin deliberation today after prosecuting and defense attorneys present their closing statements.
Elkins is charged with murder and cruelty to children in Antonio’s death. His mother, Karimah Elkins also of Brunswick, is charged with making false statements and tampering with evidence for allegedly giving her son a false alibi and getting rid of the alleged murder weapon.
Elkins also faces an aggravated assault charge for allegedly holding a pastor at gunpoint in a robbery 10 days before he is accused of killing Antonio.
The jury of 12, including nine white men, four white women and two black women, will decide Elkins’ and his mother’s fates.
One of the white women was excused from the jury because of her travel plans and will not weigh in on the case, moving an alternate up.
During jury selection most said they had heard of the case because of the national media attention it received and had children or grandchildren. The defense argued in the first days of the trial the jury does not represent Elkins’ peers because there are not enough minorities.
In a last minute effort, defense attorneys renewed eight motions for a mistrial they made throughout the two-week trial. A mistrial would require the trial, including jury selection, to start over again.
The motions were immediately denied by Judge Kelley.