Brunswick Killing Update
Witness ties gun to Elkins but GBI says it can't
by Walter C. Jones - Morris News Service
MARIETTA, Ga. -- A witness for the prosecution testified Monday that a Brunswick man accused of shooting a baby in its stroller hid a gun in her apartment.
The testimony kicked off the second week of the trial of De'Marquise Elkins, charged with murder in the shooting death of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago and wounding his mother Sherry West during a botched robbery March 21. Elkins is being tried in Cobb County because of pre-trial news coverage in Glynn County.
The day ended with a weapons expert saying there was no way to tie the gun to the crime and that the bullets taken from the baby and its mother were from different manufacturers.
The jury's day Monday was all about the gun and bullets.
Morning witnesses testified about the disposal of Elkins' black, .22 caliber revolver. After prosecutors showed the jury video of De’Marquise Elkins entering and leaving a neighbor's apartment in the McIntire Court housing project, they called to the witness stand two residents of the apartment.
One resident, Danielle Williams a life-long friend of De’Marquise Elkins, his mother and sister, told the jury the alleged shooter came to her apartment the morning of the murder and asked to hide his revolver under her sofa. That afternoon, his mother Karimah Elkins and his sister Sabrina Elkins arrived to retrieve it.
"Did you direct them to the love seat?" District Attorney Jackie Johnson asked Williams.
"No, ma'am," Williams answered.
"They knew right where to go?" Johnson said.
"Yes, ma'am," Williams said.
Karimah Aisha Elkins is being tried with her son for evidence tampering and providing him a false alibi to police. Sabrina Elkins is also charged with evidence tampering but will be tried separately.
Next to testify was another resident, Ronald Elkins, a cousin of De’Marquise, Karimah and Sabrina, who said the noise woke him.
"They were lifting up the furniture," he said.
He testified that he removed the bullets from the gun for the safety of his grandchild who was in the apartment before handing it to Karimah Elkins.
A long-time friend of Karimah Elkins, Willie Merrell, took the stand next to describe how he gave her and her daughter a ride to their favorite fishing spot, a saltwater pond off Highway 17 behind Brunswick Floors.
"It wasn’t a good day for fishing," he said.
When they arrived, he saw the women discussing something he couldn't understand.
"I didn't see them do anything. I heard a splash," he said.
Other witnesses recounted recovering the gun with a metal detector in waist-deep water at 1 a.m. five days after the shooting.
Afternoon testimony centered on Georgia Bureau of Investigation ballistics expert Brian Leppard who had examined the recovered revolver and the bullets from the baby and its mother. He had test fired eight shots but found only two had unique characteristics that could be used for identification.
The others lacked most characteristics because the hollow-point lead bullets were so soft.
He could determine they came from a gun with eight grooves twisted to the right. "It could either be identified or eliminated from the murder weapon," Leppard said, listing a half-dozen gun makers with similar groove patterns.
Public Defender Kevin Gough said such analysis wasn't very helpful to prosecutors because cheap handguns called SaturdayNight Specials are so plentiful.
"It would be fair to say there were millions of handguns made that would fire this bullet," Gough said.
Leppard didn't argue.
"To say that it's in the millions, that is a reasonable number that would be possibly right," he said.
Gough also hammered away on the fact that Leppard had determined that bullets in both victims were from different manufacturers. He also concluded that the one that killed Antonio had a different maker than bullets found at De'Marquise Elkins' home, at Danielle Williams apartment and at the apartment of co-defendant Dominique Lang, who is being tried separately.
Gough also got Leppard to concede there could have been two guns used in the shootings. Prosecutors expect to wrap up their case today (TUESDAY) with testimony from West which both sides predicted could be long and emotional. Attorneys for De'Marquise and Kamirah Elkins are prepared to begin their defense this afternoon in what could be a long day.
Judge Stephen Kelley said he wants to avoid spoiling the jurors' holiday weekend, so he plans to start early and stay late every day that won't interfere with jurors' business and family obligations. Still, Gough warned that the trial could last until Friday.