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Defense challenges gag order request
The lawyer representing the teenager accused of killing an infant in March is saying the motion for a gag order filed by the district attorney Wednesday is unconstitutionally broad.

In a response to Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jackie Johnson's motion for a protective order filed Wednesday, Kevin Gough, the public defender representing alleged baby killer De'Marquise Elkins, called a gag order a "pointless exercise" that lacks thoughtful legal analysis.

The order will not be effective until it is ruled on by Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley.

"Like a proverbial bull in the First Amendment china shop, District Attorney Jackie Johnson boldly seeks to go where no prosecutor has gone before," Gough says in the motion.

Elkins, 17, is accused, along with co-defendant Dominique Lang, 15, of shooting 13-month-old Antonio Santiago between the eyes, killing him, and wounding his mother, Sherry West, on March 21 at London and Ellis streets. West has said the teenagers were attempting to rob her.

Gough, who held two press conferences after the arrest of Elkins to say his client was innocent, said Johnson's proposed order is now unnecessary given recent developments in the case. That includes an announcement by Gough himself that he would no longer speak to the media about the Elkin's case.

"Since the bond hearing (on April 5), neither the state, the police, the victims or the defense have made any arguably prejudicial statements to the media," Gough argues in his response, filed Thursday in Glynn County Superior Court.

Gough argues the proposed order does not properly address statements about the case made by law enforcement, namely Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering.

"Chief Doering and other law enforcement officers have repeatedly enticed the media to cover these events by selectively disclosing evidence piece by piece while at the same time withholding all discovery from the defense," Gough states in the response.

While Gough says in the response he does not plan to hold any more press conferences, he said case law supports statements he has made thus far in the case as part of the defense's "legitimate interest in countering prejudicial pre-trial publicity flowing from government sources."

He also takes issue in the response to the state's efforts to prevent West and Antonio's father, Louis Santiago, from making statements to media.

"The defense does not believe Sherry West's story, but after reviewing the authorities, defense counsel is persuaded that Sherry West has a constitutional right to tell her story," Gough argues.

He also claims the proposed order is unconstitutionally overbroad and does not cite constitutionally required findings of fact.

"In conclusion, the proposed order is deficient in virtually every imaginable respect," he concludes in his response.

* Reporter Michael Hall writes about public safety, environment and other local topics. Contact him at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 320.

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