ATLANTA, Ga. (WSAV) – The Supreme Court of Georgia announced in a summary of opinions Friday that it has upheld the murder conviction of a man who was 17 years old when he shot a 13-month-old baby between the eyes after the baby’s mother refused to give him her purse in an attempted robbery.
De’Marquise Elkins was charged with malice murder, felony murder, first degree child cruelty and other crimes, including some related to an incident that happened days before the murder, in which Elkins shot and injured a pastor. Elkins was sentenced to life without parole plus a total of 105 years.
Elkins appealed to the Supreme Court that he should not have been sentenced to life in prison without parole because he was 17 at the time of the crime. He also claimed he did not receive a fair trial. The High Court disagreed.
In the case, Elkins v. The State, the high court said it found that the evidence against Elkins “was sufficient to authorize a rational jury to find Appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crimes for which he was convicted,” Justice Michael P. Boggs wrote for a unanimous court.
However, the Supreme Court of Georgia is sending one of Elkins’ claims back to the trial court with instructions that it hold an evidentiary hearing. Elkins claims that he received “ineffective assistance of counsel” from one of his attorneys.
After Elkins’ attorney asked the trial court to re-sentence Elkins to life with the possibility of parole, Elkins claimed his attorney was ineffective, but the superior court ruled on the emergency motion without a hearing and denied the claim. The Supreme Court of Georgia then ruled that Elkins’ claim was raised at an appropriate time and should have had a hearing.
According to the facts of the case, in March 2013, Elkins and a 15-year old were walking down the street in Brunswick, when they approached Sherry West pushing her 13-month-old son, Antonio Santiago in a stroller. The boys demanded money from her, and when she said she did not have any, Elkins threatened to shoot her baby.
When West refused to give her purse over to Elkins, he hit her in the face and started counting down. She again refused to give up her bag, and Elkins fired a shot into the ground, one into her leg and one between the baby’s eyes, killing him.
Elkins hid the gun at a relative’s house before being taken into custody. His mother and sister took the gun and threw it into a pond, but police found it a few days later. Elkins’ mother was sentenced to ten years in prison for tampering with evidence. His sister pleaded guilty to the same charge. The 15-year-old that was with Elkins pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery of West.
The full opinion is available on the Supreme Court website at www.gasupreme.us.