Jurors hear from man who tipped police about baby-shooting suspect

by Walter C. Jones - Morris News Service

MARIETTA, Ga. -- A man who tipped Brunswick police to two suspects in the March 21 shooting of a toddler told a Cobb County jury today his conscience led him to act, not the reward.

"I didn't do this for the reward money. Can I say this? Whoever had the guns to shoot a baby... I'm doing this for my conscience," said Argie Brooks.

He has collected $2,000 and will get another $8,000 if De'Marquise "Marky" Elkins and co-defendant Dominique Lang are convicted. Elkins is being tried in Cobb County because of the amount of pre-trial news coverage in Glynn County. Lang is being tried separately later.

Elkins' lawyers called Brooks to the stand because they argue he essentially framed Elkins and Lang.

Brooks said he was living with Lang's aunt Debra Obley and overheard her mention her nephew's involvement in the shooting of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago and his mother, Sherry West who was wounded in the leg.

"I was the first person to go up to detectives. They didn't have no leads, no suspects," Brooks said.

He approached a Brunswick police officer and offered to get Obley high on crack cocaine so she would talk more freely if the officer would supply money for the drug. The officer declined, and later Brooks told his probation officer of his willingness to tip police, and they picked him up for questioning.

Brooks testified in a prison jumpsuit because he is awaiting his own trial on armed-robbery charges that would result in a sentence of life without parole on conviction. But he told jurors he has no deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony in Elkins' case.

Defense attorney Kevin Gough said the conviction bonus was a windfall. "Marky Elkins is the gift that keeps on giving for you," he said, Brooks suggested the attorney would feel differently if he were a prosecutor.

"You call it snitch money. It would be 'help money' -- it would be 'please help money' -- if it was on the other way," he said.

Earlier in the day, the defense called two paramedics and a nurse who attended to West the morning of the shooting. All said she didn't know who shot her.

Nurse Jennifer Krauss testified that West kept asking about the condition of the baby who was also at the same hospital.

"She was so concerned with the baby she didn't even have concern for her leg," Krauss said.

A psychology professor from Georgia State University also testified about how witnesses are often mistaken about identifying attackers because of stress and police suggestions. "When you go to retrieve that memory, it's been updated and influenced by all these things," said Dr. Heather Kleider.

Another expert witness, firearms examiner Jay Jarvis, testified that his analysis agreed with the crime lab conclusion that it is impossible to prove the gun police recovered had fired the bullets removed from West and Antonio.

Attorneys expect additional defense witnesses to last into the evening.

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