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Baby killing case shocks community
The murder of a 13-month-old boy and the speedy trial of the teenager who shot him is one of the top stories to make headlines in Glynn County in 2013.

The unprovoked attack on Sherry West and the murder of her son, Antonio Santiago, shot in the head as he sat in a stroller on March 21 at the intersection of London and Ellis streets in Brunswick's Old Town neighborhood shocked the community and the world. West also was shot and received medical attention for a bullet that lodged above her left knee.

Within minutes, law enforcement agencies from Glynn and surrounding counties swarmed the tree-lined streets of Old Town, where stately Victorian homes had stood witness to one of the most tragic crimes in the city's history.

Police K-9 units followed scents, SWAT teams canvassed the neighborhood and a Department of Natural Resources helicopter hovered low over the live oaks in search of the two teenagers West said had shot her and Antonio when she refused to give them her purse.

By midmorning on March 22, police had arrested then 17-year-old De'Marquise Elkins and 15-year-old Dominique Lang, charging both with Antonio's murder.

On March 27, a 15-count grand jury indictment charged Elkins and Lang with murder, aggravated assault, attempted armed robbery and cruelty to children for their alleged roles in the attack.

Elkins' mother, Karimah Elkins, 36, and aunt, Katrina Elkins, 33, were also charged in the indictment with making false statements to police for allegedly giving a false alibi for De'Marquise Elkins' whereabouts at the time of the shootings.

Karimah Elkins and Sabrina Elkins, 19, De'Marquise Elkins' sister, were also charged in the indictment with disposing of the alleged murder weapon, a .22 caliber revolver police recovered from a marsh pond off U.S. 17 in Brunswick.

The subsequent court proceedings moved quickly through Glynn County Superior Court and eventually saw De'Marquise Elkins and Karimah Elkins go before a jury in Cobb County Superior Court in Marietta after the case was moved there due to excessive pretrial publicity that included coverage as far away as the United Kingdom.

Lang, Katrina Elkins and Sabrina Elkins were granted separate trials by Brunswick Judicial Circuit Judge Stephen Kelley. Their trial dates have not been set.

De'Marquise Elkins and Karimah Elkins were tried together.

Testimony from Lang and West identified De'Marquise Elkins as the sole shooter in the attack. That testimony, combined with their ability to describe the Saturday night special type revolver that was used, persuaded the Cobb County jury that Elkins had killed Antonio and assaulted West.

Elkins was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his murder conviction and was given an additional 125 years for convictions on charges of cruelty to children, aggravated assault, attempted armed robbery and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony.

Karimah Elkins was not convicted for making false statements to police but was convicted for tampering with evidence.

De'Marquise Elkins, now 18, is incarcerated at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. He did not face the death penalty because he was only 17 when the crime was committed.

The Elkins case was not the only high profile murder case prosecuted by the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office this year.

After more than four years of waiting in the Glynn County Detention Center to stand trial on charges that he beat his father and seven others to death in a trailer at the New Hope Plantation mobile home park on Aug. 29, 2009, Guy Heinze Jr., finally got his day in court.

The two-week-long death penalty trial in October was a back and forth affair with defense attorneys attacking the police investigation that led to Heinze's arrest and prosecutors using several key pieces of circumstantial evidence to maintain suspicion in the minds of jurors about Heinze's involvement.

Despite the defense's best efforts to point out where mistakes were made by police during the investigation, several of Heinze's bloody palm prints inside the trailer, blood from the victims on his clothes and his prints being found on a shotgun in the trunk of the car he was driving convinced the sequestered Glynn County jury that Heinze was guilty.

A last-minute deal between defense attorneys and prosecutors took the death penalty off the table as a sentencing option in exchange for the removal of a juror who had been talking about the case to his family and a Glynn County sheriff's deputy.

Brunswick Judicial Circuit Judge Stephen Scarlett sentenced Heinze to four consecutive life sentences -- one for every two murders -- without the possibility of parole. Scarlett sentenced him to 20 years in prison for the aggravated assault of a toddler in the trailer, five years for possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance and 12 months for possession of marijuana. Those sentences will be served concurrently with the murder sentences.

Heinze is also incarcerated at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Defense attorneys in both the Elkins and Heinze cases have requested new trials as a first step in what will likely be long appeals processes.

SBlt 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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