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Mother of slain baby takes stand in emotional trial

2:59 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Brunswick baby shooting trial

Video: Pastor, witness testify in baby shooting trial

Video: Mother of slain baby takes stand in emotional trial

  • Sherry West on the stand on Tue. Aug. 27, 2013.
  • Clever Jimenez, a witness, who said he saw Elkins rob and then shoot a Brunswick church pastor 10 days before the baby's death
  • An emotional Sherry West on the stand on Tue. Aug. 27, 2013.

MARIETTA, Ga. -- In emotionally wrenching testimony, Sherry West cried softly as she remembered dressing her 13-month-old son, Antonio Santiago, for the last time on the morning of March 21.

"It was cold...I gave him mittens and a hat," she said.

She told how she pushed him in a stroller to a nearby Brunswick post office to mail a letter and then was confronted by two young black men on her way home.

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She said one of them pointed a pistol at her and demanded money.

"I told him I didn't have any," she testified.

She said he demanded money a second time and fired a warning shot into the ground.

"Then he asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby," West said.

According to her, he fired one shot at her head and the bullet grazed her ear when she ducked.

Then he shot her in the leg.

"I asked him why are you doing this to me?" she said.

Then to her horror, he turned on her child.

"He walked over and shot my baby," she cried, "I put my arms around my baby to try and protect him, but he still shot him."

She said the gunman and his younger companion finally ran away when she began screaming.

"I screamed, 'someone help me, he shot my baby'," she added.

West said she moved the stroller a little distance and tried to give her dying son CPR until a policeman arrived and took over.

Jurors also watched a video re-enactment in which she pushed an empty stroller along the same route for police detectives later the same day.

"Do you see the man who shot your baby in the courtroom today?" prosecutor Andrew Ekonomou asked.

"Yes, the young man in the blue shirt," she replied through tears, pointing her finger at 18-year-old De'Marquise Elkins at the defense table.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Kevin Gough, West admitted picking a photo of 15-year-old co-defendant Dominique Lang instead of Elkins in a police photo lineup.

Lang admitted being with Elkins in his testimony last week, but said Elkins was the shooter.

Despite the photo mixup, West adamantly insisted Elkins was the man who wounded her and shot her child between the eyes.

"I remember Mister Elkins pointing a gun in my face," she said.

When asked if she had a history of mental illness, she paused and said, "yes".

She admitting being bi-polar and suffering symptoms of post traumatic stress, borderline personality disorder and paranoia, for which she takes at least two medications.

She also admitted threatening to sue Brunswick Police after some of them asked her if she'd be surprised if some witnesses never saw any young black men on the street when the shooting happened.

The prosecution is expected to rest its side of the case after West's testimony.

Elkins' defense has indicated they will have several witnesses of their own.

The trial was moved to Cobb County because of extensive publicity in the Brunswick area.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors began by trying to tie Elkins to another armed robbery 10 days before.

Tuesday morning, a Mexican born laborer, Clever Jimenez, pointed out Elkins as the man who robbed him and wounded another man on March 11, 2013.

Jimenez said he was working at a Brunswick church with a minister when three young men approached them asking for water.

He said they came back later, one with a pistol, who demanded money. Jimenez said when he and the pastor told the gunman they didn't have any, the robber shot the preacher in the arm.

Under cross-examination, defense attorneys got Jimenez to admit he was torn between identifying two different photos when police showed him a multi-photo lineup.

He said he was only certain when he saw Elkins' photo in a newspaper story about the toddler's murder several days later.

Jimenez also admitted confusion over what type of pistol the suspect had.

When the defense asked him if he was in the country illegally, he refused to answer, saying it had nothing to do with this case.

The defense then asked if he was afraid he'd be deported if he didn't cooperate with police.

Jimenez answered, "No," and said he was never asked about his citizenship during the investigation.

Pastor Wilfred Calix Flores was next on the witness stand. He told a similar story about the robbery and being shot in the arm.

He also pointed out Elkins as his attacker.

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