BRUNSWICK, GA (AP) - A Georgia teenager convicted of fatally shooting a baby in a stroller while trying to rob the child's mother was sentenced Thursday to life in prison without parole.
De'Marquise Elkins, 18, was sentenced in Georgia's Glynn County Superior Court less than two weeks after a jury found him guilty of murder in the slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago.
The toddler was in his stroller and out for a walk with his mother when he was shot between the eyes March 21 in the Georgia coastal city of Brunswick. The mother and a younger teenager charged an accomplice testified at the trial that Elkins killed the boy after his mother refused to give up her purse.
Elkins was spared the death penalty because the killing occurred when he was 17, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled is too young to face capital punishment. Under Georgia law, the only possible punishments for Elkins were life with or without a chance of parole.
Prosecutors said Sherry West was pushing her son in his stroller as she walked home from a post office when two teenagers approached her that day in March, just a few blocks from her apartment.
Dominique Lang, 15, testified at the trial he was with Elkins when the older teen pulled a gun and demanded West's purse. When she refused to give it to him, Lang said, Elkins twice threatened her baby and counted down from five.
West testified she pleaded with Elkins that she had no money and tried to cover her child with her arms as the gunman fired a warning shot, fired a bullet into her in the leg and shot her baby in the face.
Police recovered a .22-caliber revolver from a saltwater pond, and prosecutors said it matched the gun used in the killing. Prosecutors also have said information from Elkins' mother and sister led them to the weapon.
Lang also faces murder charges in the case. No trial date has been set and it's unknown how his cooperation in the prosecution of Elkins might affect how his case gets handled.
Elkins' mother, Karimah Elkins, stood trial alongside him and was convicted of evidence tampering for helping dispose of the gun. Elkins' sister and aunt have also been charged with trying to help him avoid prosecution in the case.
The killing in the Southeast port city of Brunswick drew national attention and Elkins' trial was moved more than 300 miles away to the Atlanta suburbs because of pretrial publicity.
Elkins' never testified at his two-week trial in August. But his defense attorneys argued police rushed to build a case against Elkins without considering other possible suspects. They even suggested the slain child's own parents may have been the real killers.
Kevin Gough, Elkins' lead attorney, has said he plans to appeal the murder conviction.