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Monday, April 1, 2013

Will Race be an Issue in the DeMarquis Elkins Murder Case?

     On Thursday morning, March 21, 2013, in the small southeastern Georgia coastal town of Brunswick, Sherry West pushed her 13-month-old son in a stroller not far from her house in the Old Town historic district. Two young black males approached the 41-year-old mother and her child a quarter after nine that morning. The older kid, described by Sherry West as between 13 and 15-years-old and five-foot-seven to five-nine, pulled a handgun and demanded money. The robber's companion, as described by the victim, looked to be between 10 and 12-years old. The older boy, who was wearing a red shirt, when told by the mother that she didn't have any money, said, "Well, I'm going to kill your baby."

     The terrified mother tried to use her body to protect her son. "Please don't kill my baby," she pleaded.

     The young robber, after pushing the mother aside, shot the sleeping child in the face. Before fleeing on foot, the gunman shot Sherry West in the leg. A second bullet grazed her head. As the boys ran off, the wounded mother called 911, and tried in vain to save her son by administering CPR. (Sherry West was no stranger to the tragedy of violent death. In 2008, in Gloucester County, New Jersey, her 17-year-old son Shaun was stabbed to death in a street fight.)

     The next day, the police arrested 17-year-old DeMarquis Elkins and his 15-year-old friend, Dominique Lang. Elkins was charged with murder, and was held without bail. The authorities have charged Dominique Lang, as an adult, with felony-murder. The juvenile was denied bond as well. Under Georgia law, Elkins is considered an adult.

     On March 27, 2013, a Glynn County grand jury indicted three members of DeMarquis Elkins' family of offenses related to interfering with the investigation of the murder of Sherry West's son. The defendant's mother, 36-year-old Karimah Aisha Elkins, and his aunt, Katrina Latrelle Elkins, 33, were charged with making false statements to the police regarding a false alibi. DeMarquis' sister, 19-year-old Sabrina Elkins, has been indicted for helping her mother dispose of the murder weapon, a .22-caliber pistol.  (Police recovered the gun from a pond two miles from the murder scene.)

     Brunswick City Commissioner James Henry Brooks, an Elkins' family distant relative, was charged with influencing a witness and obstructing law enforcement in the murder case. The 59-year-old is free on $5,000 bond.

     On Monday, March 25, 2013, Commissioner Brooks, at DeMarquis Elkins' arraignment hearing, had informed members of his family that they did not have to cooperate with homicide detectives investigating the baby's murder. (What would compel a city official to do that?)

     In another development in the case, Wifredo Calix-Flores, the pastor of a small church in Brunswick, identified DeMarquis Elkins as the young gunman who shot him in the arm on March 11, ten days before the murder of the West child. According to the preacher, Elkins had come to the church to rob him of his cellphone and his wallet.

     On July 15, 2013, Elkin' s attorney filed a motion asking the judge to force prosecutors to hand over the entire Georgia Bureau of Investigation file on the case. According to the defense attorney, investigators, after the murder, found gunshot residue traces on Sherry West and on the baby's father, Louis Santiago. At the time of the killing, Louis, according to Sherry West, was at the local Walmart store. In the GBI report, an investigator noted that Sherry West could have picked up the GSR traces because of her proximity to the shooting. Regarding Mr. Santiago, his GSR traces could have "originated from occupational and/or industrial sources." Neither of the parents were considered suspects by GBI detectives. (The couple is no longer together.)

     Here comes the touchy part. Following O. J. Simpson's acquittal in 1995, it became clear that a large segment of the black community cheered the verdict. Many were surprised to learn that this support was not based on a belief that Simpson was innocent of the double murder. His supporters simply didn't like the police. These feelings about the Simpson case revealed a racial divide in the country that white people were not aware of. (This is a bit ironic given the fact that whites had liked and admired Simpson as an athlete and TV personality. He was hardly a black activist.)

     On July 13, after the jury of six women in Sanford, Florida found George Zimmerman not guilty or second degree murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, protestors broke windows and set fire in Oakland, California. In Los Angeles, Trayvon Martin supporters who believed that nightwatchman shot the unarmed 17-year-old because he was black, blocked traffic on a major Los Angeles highway. Not long after the February 2012 shooting, President Obama injected race into the case by noting that Trayvon Martin could be his son. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and others held "Justice for Trayvon" rallies. The national media covered the case as a race story when in fact, as revealed by defense attorneys at the trial, Trayvon Martins race had nothing to do with his getting shot.

     One would hope that in Brunswick, Georgia, race won't become an issue in such a heinous murder. But the gratuitous interference in the case by Commission Brooks is not, in my opinion, a sign of community cohesion.  

1 comment:

  1. This is the most asinine ignorant article I have read in a while. What an obvious low opinion you have a black people. You are doing nothing more than race baiting, and I for one am glad not many took the bait.