An all-white jury will decide the fate of the black teen charged in the shooting death of a white infant baby in a stroller.
No African American made the final cut of the jury that is serving on the Sherry West baby murder trial where two black teens are accused of shooting a 13-month-old Antonio Santiago between the eyes in a stroller in Brunswick, Ga. that made national headlines and horrified Americans to the core. The teens are also charged with shooting the mother in the leg running off and leaving both to die. The mother survived her wounds.
Currently, there are eight white males and four white females comprising the all-Caucasian 12-person jury. Two minorities — one black female and an an American female who descends from India — comprise two-thirds of the alternates.
Despite multiple pleas by Elkins’ defense attorney Kevin Gough to erase the jury pool and start over because of the conspicuous dearth of African Americans in the prospective jury pool — including no black males — even though there is a large pool of African American potential jurors in the county, the case has nevertheless gone to trial to decide the fate of the black teens accused of first-degree murder in the coastal port town in southeast Georgia, a four-hour drive east of Atlanta. The teens — De’Marquise Elkins, 18, and Dominique Lang, 15 — face life in prison if they are convicted in the trial that was moved to metro Atlanta.
Judge Stephen Kelley struck down defense attorney’s motion to dismiss the jury pool and start anew, saying that the lack of the diversity on the jury was insufficient to make such a bold, dramatic move as to wipe the jury pool clean and randomly select a new jury. Kelley cited previous Georgia court cases to bolster his decision, as well as reiterated that the jury selection process was not compromised or contaminated in any discernible way.
“The court states as follows, random selection safeguards the selection process from any manipulation of jurors,” Kelley said. “Based on that and the evidence that I have before me … the jurors were pooled and put into the computer into panels of 12. There were 17 such panels. We asked for four panels and four panels were sent here. The Constitution does not guarantee” a particular racial composition of a jury, Kelley continued. “I find that the defense failed to prove that there was any wrongdoing in the selection process by Cobb County in this case or any purposeful discrimination. Therefore you motion is hereby denied.”
Opening statements are due to start on late Monday afternoon, followed by state presenting its case.