An 18-year-old teenager has been convicted in the brutal slaying of a Georgia toddler. HLN reports that De’Marquise Elkins was found guilty of multiple charges, including felony murder after he fatally shot 13-month-old Antonio Santiago during a robbery attempt in Brunswick, Ga.
According to the Associated Press, the jury deliberated for two hours before rendering its verdict. Elkins faces a possible sentence of life in prison. He was 17 when the crime was committed, which is too young for the death penalty under Georgia law.
Elkins’ mother, Karimah, on trial alongside her son, was found guilty of tampering with evidence related to the shooting.
Santiago’s mother, Sherry West, told the jury the crime occurred on March 21 while she was walking home from the post office with her baby in a stroller. Elkins and another teenager, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, approached her with guns and demanded money.
“I told him I have a baby and I have expenses and I didn't have it. He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby. I told him, 'Please don't shoot my baby.' He shot a warning shot into the ground," West said, according to HLN. "I asked him, 'Why are you doing this? Please don't do this.' It felt like he shot me in the ear. Then he shot me in the leg. My left leg."
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Elkins then turned his attention to the baby. "I tried to stop him. I put my arms over my baby but he still shot him," she said. "He walked over and shot my baby."
As the AP notes, the defendants used a .22-caliber revolver to commit the murder.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Jackie Johnson laid out the crux of the case to the jury. “We have a defendant who preyed upon the weak,” she said. “He preyed upon the weak when he was looking for Mexicans to rob, because he knows lots of times they can’t speak English. They are afraid. They might be here illegally. They may not even report to police. They don’t see any more Mexicans that morning. They see something even better, something even more weak, something even more vulnerable, a mother and a child.”
According to HLN, Lang will be tried as an adult at a later date. He testified against Elkins, identifying him as the shooter during the trial.