Trial Begins in Alleged Toddler Murder

On August 19, 2013, jury selection began in the murder and assault trial of a teenager whom prosecutors claim shot a 13-month-old boy because the boy’s mother said she didn’t have any money.

17-year-old De’Marquise Elkins and 15-year-old Dominque Lang are being tried separately. Each of the suspects is charged as an adult and faces 17 different criminal counts, including assault and murder. Mr. Elkins’ mother is also facing charges of obstruction of justice, stemming from the same incident.

Prosecutors allege that Mr. Elkins and Mr. Lang approached Brunswick resident Sherry West as Ms. West walked her 13-month-old son in a stroller, and after Ms. West refused to comply with their demands for money, Mr. Wilkins shot the young boy in the face.

Defense attorneys respond that Ms. West had previously been involved in an insurance fraud case, and that a relative overheard Ms. West ask the life insurance company when she could expect a check. Her ex-husband, convicted felon Louis Santiago, has a very weak alibi for the shooting and police detected gun residue on his hands soon after the incident. Neither he nor Ms. West have been charged with any criminal activity.

Strategy in criminal cases

In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond any reasonable doubt. Defense attorneys often try to create reasonable doubt as opposed to directly refuting the prosecutor’s case. In this instance, the defense lawyers are expected to argue that the boy’s parents may have played a role in the boy’s death. By creating confusion, lawyers hope that at least one juror will have a reasonable doubt as to the evidence. Such a strategy, colloquially referred to as the “sink and ink” defense among some criminal attorneys, is often effective, especially when the facts themselves are heavily slanted against the defendant.

For more than 30 years, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum have routinely defended individuals accused of serious criminal charges, including aggravated assault, murder and rape. Contact McPhillips Shinbaum today for your free consultation.