Wednesday, August 28, 2013 6:04 pm
Half-sister of slain Ga. baby testifies in trial
By KATE BRUMBACKAssociated Press
A defense lawyer called Ashley Glassey to testify in the murder trial of his client, De'Marquise Elkins, who is charged in the March 21 killing of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago in coastal Georgia.
Glassey's mother, Sherry West, has said she was walking home from the Brunswick post office with Antonio in a stroller when Elkins, 18, and another teen approached her and demanded money. After she told them she didn't have any, Elkins shot her in the leg and then shot the baby in the face, West has said.
Glassey, 21, lives in New Jersey and testified through tears that she had only seen her mother for a few hours on one occasion since she was 8 years old.
Glassey said her mother called her at 8:30 p.m. the day of the shooting. West told her daughter two kids had come up to her and asked for money and then shot the baby and then her when she said she had none, Glassey said. When Glassey asked for more details, West changed the story to say she was shot first and the baby second, Glassey said.
Glassey's grandmother had died the summer before and she had collected her grandmother's life insurance policy to cover expenses, Glassey said. Her mother knew that and called to ask how fast Glassey thought it would take for her to get the payment from a life insurance policy she had taken out on the baby.
"The whole conversation just didn't settle well with me," Glassey said.
Because she thought her mother's story didn't add up, she called law enforcement in Brunswick to tell them that and said she needed to talk to detectives in the case, she said. But when the police didn't call her, she told some media outlets how her mother had asked about the life insurance payout.
After Glassey's statements appeared, an angry West called her and told her she had no business talking to the news and that's the last time the two spoke, Glassey said.
West testified Tuesday that she had taken out a life insurance policy on her young son because he had been sick just after he was born and someone at the hospital mentioned the idea to her. She took out a $5,000 policy from Gerber Life Insurance Co., she said.
West paid a premium of $3.18 each month, and when her son was killed, she cashed in the policy, she said. She used $2,000 for funeral costs for Antonio and used the balance to pay her moving expenses, she said.
Prosecutors say Elkins and an accomplice, 15-year-old Dominique Lang, stopped West, and the older teen pointed a small .22-caliber revolver at her and demanded money before shots were fired.
The killing in the port city of Brunswick drew national attention, and the trial was moved to the Atlanta suburb of Marietta because of extensive publicity
Elkins faces life in prison if convicted of murder. At the time of the shooting he was 17, too young to face the death penalty if convicted under Georgia law. Lang, who also faces murder charges, is to be tried at a later date.
Prosecutors have said information from Elkins' mother and sister led investigators to a pond where they found a revolver. Karimah Elkins is standing trial alongside her son on charges of evidence tampering and lying to police. Elkins' sister also was charged with evidence tampering.
Prosecutors have also accused De'Marquise Elkins of shooting a pastor during an attempted robbery outside a church in Brunswick 10 days before the baby was killed.
The jury also heard testimony Wednesday from several people who arrived on the scene shortly after the shooting happened. None of them saw anyone other than West and the baby, and they all said West was hysterical and was screaming and was trying to resuscitate her son.
Before breaking for the day, the jury watched about an hour and 43 minutes of a roughly two-hour video of West being questioned at the police station the day of the shooting.
Two police officers can be seen in the video questioning West about a wide variety of topics, including the shooting, guns, her relationship with her son's father, her health and medication, and her income and resources.
West's demeanor during the police interview shifts often. Sometimes she seems sad or angry while at other times she's very matter-of-fact and on some occasions laughs.
At one point the two officers leave her alone in the interrogation room. At first she sits there silently, but after a while she begins sighing frequently and muttering about her back hurting and says she can't believe she's being left to just sit there. Finally, she whispers, "My poor baby," and starts pulling photos of her children from her purse that she then shows to one of the detectives upon her return to the room.