Accused baby killers appear before judge

BRUNSWICK — Lawyers for four of the five defendants charged in connection with the murder of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago sat quietly next to their clients during most of a hearing Wednesday as public defenders representing the accused shooter, De'Marquise Elkins, argued with prosecutors about the disclosure of evidence.

Jonathan Lockwood, one of the team of public defenders appointed to defend 18-year-old Elkins, filed a motion in open court asking Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley to allow another five days for defense attorneys to file motions. The original deadline Kelley set was June 28.

Kelley granted the extension, setting a new deadline of July 15 for pretrial motions and a new deadline of July 25 for prosecutors to respond to defense motions.

He said he still plans to begin the trial Aug. 19 at Marietta, in Cobb County, about 325 miles northwest of Brunswick.

Lockwood argued that the extension was necessary because he said prosecutors have not given defense lawyers all the evidence police have collected, preventing the defense from filing motions that may be necessary.

"We simply want to get discovery (the required disclosure of evidence) in a timely fashion, as the district attorneys said they would do," Lockwood said.

One key item Lockwood said the defense has not received is the details of a crime laboratory report that shows the bullet removed from Antonio's body was not from the same manufacturer as the bullet removed from the leg of his mother, Sherry West.

West was wounded March 21 near the intersection of London and Ellis Streets in Brunswick in an attack that left Antonio dead with a gunshot wound to his head.

Elkins, who was 17 at the time, and his co-defendant, Dominique Lang, 15, are charged with murder, cruelty to children, attempted armed robbery and aggravated assault for allegedly carrying out the attack while trying to rob West.

Lockwood accused the prosecution of withholding the ballistics report, which his motion said was completed on May 22 and held 36 days before it was turned over to the defense on June 27, a day before the original deadline for motions.

Special prosecutor Andrew Ekonomou of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney's office said he had no objection to a deadline extension, but took issue with the assertion that prosecutors had not provided evidence in a timely manner.

"We don't hold reports. What value would it be for us?" Ekonomou said. "I have no problem with these extensions ... as long as they do not interfere with the (hearings and trial date that are already set)."

Lawyers representing the other four defendants in the case asked Kelley about their motions to have their clients tried separately from Elkins.

Attorneys for Lang, along with lawyers for Elkins' sister, Sabrina Elkins, 19, mother, Karimah Elkins, 36, and aunt, Katrina Elkins, 33, who are charged with attempting to cover up De'Marquise Elkins' alleged role, have all asked for separate trials.

Ekonomou reiterated the prosecution's stance in a previous motion that it agrees to having separate trials for Katrina Elkins and Lang, but indicated the state would likely object to separate trials for Karimah Elkins and Sabrina Elkins.

They are charged with evidence tampering for allegedly attempting to dispose of the .22 caliber revolver De'Marquise Elkins is accused of using to kill Antonio and wound West.

Karimah Elkins is also charged with Katrina Elkins with making false statements to police for allegedly giving a false alibi for De'Marquise Elkins' whereabouts at the time of the shootings.

Kelley has made no ruling on separating the cases. He moved De'Marquise Elkins' trail to Marietta to increase the likelihood of finding jurors who have not formed opinions about the case.