The 18-year-old convicted of murdering an infant in his stroller has been sentenced to life behind bars, avoiding the death penalty. De'Marquise Elkins never testified during the trial and did not speak at his sentencing.
Sherry West was out with her 13-month-old son Antonio Santiago when Elkins approached and asked for money. When she said that she had none, Elkins pulled out a gun and shot the child between the eyes, killing him instantly. Another, younger teenager was charged as an accomplice in the shooting.
Elkins was 17 at the time of the shooting and was spared the death penalty because he was too young to be charged with a capital crime. His lawyers were upset with the judge's decision to put the teen behind bars for the rest of his life and an additional 105 years for other charges of aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery.
"We're definitely disappointed with the ruling," Elkins' attorney Kevin Gough said as he left the courthouse. "Life without parole for a juvenile, our position remains, is cruel and unusual punishment."
Yet prosecutors were satisfied with the judge's ruling and argued that it fit the crime.
"He aimed that gun right between that baby's eyes and pulled the trigger. I don't know of a more inhumane act or wantonly vile act than to aim a gun at a sleeping baby in a stroller and take that baby's life," DA Jackie Johnson said.
Before shooting Antonio, Elkins fired a "warning shot" into West's leg. She attempted to shield her son from the bullet but it still managed to hit and kill the child. Elkins and his accomplice then fled the scene and were caught after police checked school attendance records. His aunt and mother were arrested and charged with making false statements to police.
After the shooting, Antonio's father issued a statement saying that he forgave the boys for taking the life of his son.
"Like I said, I forgive these kids," Louis Antonio told First Coast News. "I'd just like to ask them why. They should have just let them go once she said she didn't have any money and just let it be. I don't know what was in the minds of those kids."
"The love of my life was taken far, far away," West told the court during Elkins' sentencing. "All I can do is cry and wonder when I'm going to die."