Lawyers for a Georgia teenager charged with fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face are planning to accuse the child’s mother of being responsible for the crime, according to the New York Daily News.
The defense attorneys representing De'Marquise Elkins, 18, maintain that the baby’s mother, Sherry West, took out a life insurance policy on the child shortly before his murder on March 21 and then seemed eager to cash it in after the tragedy.
Prosecutors say Elkins and a 15-year-old accomplice were trying to rob the child's mother and that Elkins shot the toddler, Antonio Santiago, when she said she had no money.
“Other evidence of record suggests Sherry West is mentally unstable, gave several inconsistent accounts of how the crime transpired, and had a financial interest in the death of her son in the form of an insurance policy,” the newspaper quoted Glynn County Public Defender Kevin Gough as saying in an Aug. 5 court document.
Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Elkins. A judge moved his trial to the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, more than 325 miles from the street where the child was slain in Brunswick.
During jury selection Monday, Gough expressed surprise and concern that no one in a group of 48 prospective Cobb County jurors was a black male. Elkins is black. He faces life in prison if he is convicted of the child’s murder.
Jury selection continued Tuesday.
Witnesses who arrived after the shooting reported finding West trying to revive her son.
Defense attorneys, the Daily News reported, plan to cast doubt on Elkins’ guilt by saying that West was the only person who allegedly saw him pull the trigger.
West’s daughter, Ashley Glassey, 21, reportedly has said that her mother seemed eager to cash the life insurance policy after the death of Santiago.
“How soon do you think the life insurance policy will send me a check?” West reportedly asked Glassey, who found her mother’s mix of grief and calm odd and suspicious, according to the newspaper.
Defense attorneys also point to lab tests by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation that found traces of gunshot residue on swabs taken from the hands of West and the boy's father, Louis Santiago. Reports filed in court say the GBI found a single microscopic particle of gunshot residue swabbed from the father's hands, while more than five particles showed up in swabs from West's hands.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.