Lawyer for Georgia 17-year-old says his client 'absolutely' not guilty of killing baby

Published March 25, 2013

| Associated Press

The lawyer for one of the Georgia teenagers charged with murder in the shooting death of a baby who was in his stroller on a walk with his mother said Monday his client is "absolutely" not guilty.

"My client is absolutely, 1,000-percent not guilty," public defender Kevin Gough, who represents 17-year-old De'Marquise Elkins, told The Associated Press. He made the comments Monday, while preparing for Elkins' first court appearance on a murder charge Monday afternoon.

Elkins and a 15-year-old boy are charged in Thursday's fatal shooting of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago. His mother, Sherry West, was wounded.

At a Monday morning hearing, the boy came into the courtroom shackled and wearing a baggy orange jumpsuit, The Florida Times-Union reported. The Associated Press generally doesn't identify juvenile offenders. Elkins is charged as an adult.

The 15-year-old glanced at the few members of the media allowed into the courtroom for the initial appearance as he shuffled to a lectern facing Glynn County Magistrate Tim Barton.

The magistrate told the boy he couldn't set a bond because only Superior Court judges can do so in murder cases.

"I'm going to see that you get a lawyer immediately," Barton told the boy.

He was in the eighth grade at Glynn Middle School before his arrest, said Jim Weidhaas, a spokesman for the school system.

Elkins was last a student in the system in October 2011, when he left Ombudsman, an alternative school program, Weidhaas said.

The baby's mother said she was walking home Thursday morning when two boys confronted her and one of them opened fire. Police say she was shot in the leg, and her baby was shot in face.

Gough said he has demanded a bond hearing and filed a request for a speedy trial for Elkins.

"We look forward to our day in court," he said.

The slain boy's mother said she picked the gunman out of a photo lineup of 24 mugshots police brought to her Friday and insists he killed her baby.

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