SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The mother and aunt of a teenage suspect in the fatal shooting of a baby in his stroller have been arrested on charges that they lied to authorities, police said Tuesday.
After their arrests, both women gave police new information that helped lead investigators to a small saltwater pond where they found a handgun, Glynn County police Chief Matt Doering said. He said the gun was being tested to determine whether it could be matched to the slaying last week of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago.
The new arrests targeted relatives of 17-year-old De'Marquise Elkins, who is jailed on murder charges. The slain child's mother, Sherry West, says she was pushing her baby in his stroller Thursday near their home in Brunswick, 80 miles south of Savannah, when a gunman shot the child in the face and wounded her after she refused to give money to him and a younger accomplice.
Elkins' mother, 36-year-old Karimah Elkins, and his aunt, 33-year-old Katrina Elkins, were booked Tuesday morning at the Glynn County jail on charges of making false statements to police, a misdemeanor. Jail records show both women were released after posting bond.
"We arrested them last night and brought them back to headquarters, where we afforded them the opportunity to make additional statements," Doering said Tuesday. "They did, and that information led us to other witnesses ... (who) led us to an area where the gun was disposed of."
Doering would not say what false statements either woman made. The slaying suspect's aunt told The Associated Press and other media outlets after his arrest that her nephew couldn't be the killer because he was at her house for breakfast Thursday morning and then ran errands with her family when the baby and his mother were shot.
The aunt, booked at the jail under the name Katrina Elkins, told The AP and others that her last name was Freeman. Her jail mugshot showed her to be the same woman.
"He was with us the whole time," the aunt told The AP on Saturday, and she said she gave police the same account of her nephew's whereabouts. "There is no doubt in my mind that he is innocent."
Nobody answered calls to Katrina Elkins' home phone or cellphone Tuesday. No working number for Karimah Elkins could be found. It was not immediately known whether either woman had hired an attorney.
West, the baby's mother, has said she and her son were walking home from the post office, a few blocks from her apartment, when they were approached by two youths asking for money. She said she told them she had none, and an older teenager drew a handgun and asked her: "Do you want me to shoot your baby?"
She said the gunman shot her in the leg, and another bullet grazed her left ear, before he shot her baby in the face. West and the boy's father had just celebrated Antonio's first birthday in February.
West identified De'Marquise Elkins as the shooter when police showed her a photo lineup of 24 faces, she said.
Police also arrested 15-year-old Dominique Lang on murder charges. Lang still needed an attorney appointed to defend him when he made his first appearance before a judge Monday.
West has said she's certain Elkins was the shooter. She said the younger boy mostly hid behind him.
Kevin Gough, a public defender representing De'Marquise Elkins, said Tuesday that defense attorneys are looking closely at possible alibis for the suspect. Gough also said it's tough to persuade a jury with an alibi defense in a small city such as Brunswick. Elkins' aunt lives less than 2 miles from the crime scene.
"We believe very strongly in his innocence," Gough said of De'Marquise Elkins.