SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — A 15-year-old boy charged with felony murder in a baby's shooting is "more of a witness than a defendant" and should be tried in court separately from an older teenager accused of being the gunman, a defense attorney said Tuesday.
The two teenagers are awaiting trial in coastal Brunswick in the March 21 slaying of Antonio Santiago, a 13-month-old boy who was shot in the face while sitting in his stroller. Police say both suspects were trying to rob the baby's mother as she walked on the street a few blocks from her apartment.
The lawyer for Dominique Lang said in a phone interview Tuesday her client took no part in any shooting or robbery attempt. Attorney Kimberly L. Copeland said she's afraid Lang won't get a fair trial if the same jury hears both suspects' cases at once.
"My client's more of a witness than a defendant," Copeland said. "My client didn't participate in anything."
Copeland has filed a motion asking a Superior Court judge to scheduled separate trials for Lang and his co-defendant, 17-year-old De'Marquise Elkins.
Elkins is charged with malice murder and an indictment March 27 identified him as the suspected shooter. His attorney, Kevin Gough, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday evening.
Lang's attorney noted that Elkins is also charged in another shooting and robbery that happened 10 days before the baby was slain. Prosecutors haven't charged Lang in that second crime, and Copeland said she's concerned it might tarnish him in the eyes of a jury.
"I think my client would be prejudiced by going to trial with (Elkins)," Copeland said. "And if the jury found (Elkins) guilty, they would automatically find my client guilty."
The baby's mother, Sherry West, has said they were walking home from the post office when two youths approached her and asked for money. She said that when she refused the older teen drew a gun and shot her in the leg before shooting her baby in the face. West said she identified Elkins as the gunman from a police photo lineup of 24 mug shots.
Both suspects are scheduled for arraignment before Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley on April 18.
The judge said during a hearing last week that he wants to hold Elkins' trial before the end of the year. He made no mention of Lang's case.