Credibility of witnesses questioned in Day 3 of accused baby killer’s trial
by Nikki Wiley
August 22, 2013 12:32 AM | 5239 views | 6 6 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dominique Lang, 15-year-old co-defendant in the murder trial of accused shooter De’Marquise Elkins in the slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago and the wounding of his mother, testified Wednesday before Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen D. Kelley that Elkins demanded the woman’s purse and then slapped her with the gun before shooting the mother and her baby.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Dominique Lang, 15-year-old co-defendant in the murder trial of accused shooter De’Marquise Elkins in the slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago and the wounding of his mother, testified Wednesday before Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen D. Kelley that Elkins demanded the woman’s purse and then slapped her with the gun before shooting the mother and her baby.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
Brunswick Police Department Criminal Investigator Angela Smith fields questions from defense attorneys about the photographs used to identify a suspect in the shooting death of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago during the De’Marquise Elkins murder trial.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Brunswick Police Department Criminal Investigator Angela Smith fields questions from defense attorneys about the photographs used to identify a suspect in the shooting death of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago during the De’Marquise Elkins murder trial.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
De’Marquise Elkins sits quietly in the courtroom during testimony in the trial.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
De’Marquise Elkins sits quietly in the courtroom during testimony in the trial.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
MARIETTA — Day three of the trial against accused baby killer De’Marquise Elkins ended with an unanswered question about the credibility of a key witness.

In the last hour Wednesday, 15-year-old Joe Lang took the stand to testify that he saw Elkins and his co-defendant Dominique Lang together at his grandmother’s home in Brunswick after the shooting took place.

Elkins is accused of shooting 13-month-old Antonio Santiago between the eyes in his stroller during the attempted robbery of the toddler’s mother. Elkins faces multiple charges, including murder, but is not eligible for the death penalty because he was not 18 at the time of the shooting.

Dominique Lang is also charged with murder and was allegedly with Elkins during the shooting.

Joe Lang is the cousin of Dominique Lang, also 15, and defense attorneys found his story problematic.

He told the Cobb jury he did not go to school that day.

“I didn’t have nothing to wear,” he said.

He ended up at his grandmother’s house, where he saw his cousin with Elkins. But it’s how he got there that was in question.

In a pre-trial hearing, Joe Lang told the court he woke up at Hopkins Homes, a government housing complex in Brunswick. Wednesday he said he woke up “around the corner” and described the route he took to get from where the home he woke up in to his grandmother’s home.

That route wasn’t from the housing project.

When the inconsistency was pointed out by defense attorney Jonathan Lockwood, Joe Lang told the court the transcript from the previous hearing was inaccurate.

He was “pretty sure” he woke up at a home not at the government housing community and then told Lockwood he was “certain.”

That didn’t sit well with Lockwood.

When asked why he changed his story from being pretty sure to certain, Joe Lang sat quietly, staring with widely opened eyes directly at Lockwood, who asked the judge four times in a raised voice to order an answer from the witness.

The judge did not give the order. Instead, he opted to end the trial for the day. The trial was moved to Cobb County because of concern about media coverage and a racial divide in Brunswick.

Co-defendant describes murder

Dominique Lang said he met Elkins at Glynn Villas, another government housing project, the morning of the shooting. There is no indication the pair knew each other before that day.

He followed Elkins into the south portion of the city toward a neighborhood lined with oak trees and considered one of Brunswick’s better communities.

He was walking behind Elkins when Elkins approached a woman with a stroller and asked for her purse, Dominique Lang said.

“He slapped her with the gun,” Dominique Lang said.

Elkins then threatened the baby, Dominique Lang said.

“He came around the stroller and she came around the other way and he shot,” he said. “I was in panic mode. I didn’t move.”

Both Antonio and his mother, Sherry West, were shot, though the mother lived and is expected to testify.

Attorneys took the time before the jury entered the courtroom and their lunch break to argue whether or not an identification made to police by Dominique Lang should stand. Three other witnesses pointed to Elkins sitting next to his attorneys and his mother in the courtroom and said he’s the man they told police they saw with Dominique Lang the day of the shooting.

The defense said the way police got Dominique Lang to identify Elkins is problematic.

He told police Elkins was wearing a red sweatshirt, black pants and was black. Dominique Lang provided no other distinguishing characteristics. Calling Elkins “black” was a reference, he said, to Elkins’ skin tone being darker than his own.

A quiet, meek Dominique Lang wearing a Cobb County jail jumpsuit with shackles on his hands and feet watched as defense attorney Kevin Gough played a video of his testimony the day of the shooting.

“That might be De’Marquise,” he said in the video. A few minutes later he told police, “That’s him. He did it. That looks like him.”

When Gough asked why he pointed out the photo so quickly, he said because he wanted to go home.

“I was scared they were going to get me for something I didn’t do,” he said.

Gough said the photo lineup presented to Dominique Lang led him to the answer police wanted to hear. The lineup of six photographs showed all black men with five wearing black T-shirts.

Elkins was wearing a gray shirt in the photo.

Still, prosecuting attorneys argued Dominique Lang had ample time to see Elkins because the two were allegedly together during the shooting.

Defense questions mother’s credibility

It took defense attorneys five hours to poke holes in the investigation conducted by the first police officer to the crime scene, criminal investigator Angela Smith.

West chose Elkins after looking at a photo lineup for about 20 seconds, Smith said.

“She said ‘I know that was him,’” Smith said. “I will never forget those bushy eyebrows.”

Smith said she had never seen someone identify a suspect that quickly.

“Her statements at the scene were all over the place,” said Gough, the lead defense attorney.

West was a victim, Smith said, and had reason to be upset.

Gough called into question West’s medical history and diagnoses of bipolar disorder, paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder. He told the court she was taking Vicodin, a potent prescription pain medication, because she had been in a car accident.

“I won’t give in to the drug trade in this s--- city,” West told police, according to Gough.

Smith didn’t investigate if West was on drugs during the shooting.

Gough maintains West wasn’t adequately considered as a suspect. Her 18-year-old son’s shooting death in New Jersey years before her toddler’s death was not investigated. Police did not search for a gun when they responded to the scene of the toddler’s shooting death.

“My thought was I have an unresponsive child on the ground that I gave my attention to,” Smith said.

Police originally looked for a child between 5 and 6 years of age and one whom West said was 15.

Gough also accused Smith of inappropriately interviewing West because Brunswick City Manager Bill Weeks was present during questioning.

“What part of your training says bring the city manager along who is not even a part of your department when conducting an identification with your only eyewitness?”



Comments
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dianne lindsey
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August 22, 2013
Ok. Elkins had a headfull of dirty looking crazy dreads sticking up like he was electrified.

When sherry west was questioned, she said the perp had curly hair.

Now tell me, is that how you would have described him?

And WHO doesn't give up their purse or wallet to someone who has a gun in their face?
anonymous
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August 25, 2013
To answer your question. Me. I wouldn't. I am over this violence. I would stand up for my rights, and my rights are that I can go anywhere I want to go without being robbed and without fear. I think there are a lot of Americans that feel the same way.
anonymous
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August 22, 2013
15 year olds hanging out at Grandma's instead of being in school? Well, here is part of the problem. I don't know any Grandma's that would allow their 15 year old grandchild to "hang" at their house on a school day. The Grandma's I know would be on the horn to the parents (in this case, probably no parents around though) and would be putting the 15 year old's hind end in the car and forcing him to go to school. I understand that everyone deserves a defense, but sometimes I wonder why--so they can get off this time and go do something equally as horrible next time they hang out at Grandma's in the hood? And lay off the mother of the baby. Now.
MAY-RETTA SURVIVOR
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August 22, 2013
Years of "Civil Rights" and legalized "preferences" and this is how far they've come?

Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King must be rolling in their graves
Samuel Adams
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August 22, 2013
The defense attorney should've done his homework before deciding to blame the victim (the mother) in this case here in Cobb County. We believe in victim's rights here in Cobb and don't believe a desperate defense attorney would disparage a woman who obviously lost her baby to crazed, cold blooded killers out to get revenge on whatever system they blamed that day. The mom took meds? Well who really cares? That has no bearing on the complete immorality and evilness of her baby's killers.
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