Georgia Supreme Court orders review of slain baby case

U.S. Court Watch

The Georgia Supreme Court has ordered a trial judge to review whether a teenager was properly sentenced to life without parole after he was convicted of fatally shooting a baby in the face.

De'Marquise Kareem Elkins was 17 when the baby was slain in his stroller during a failed street robbery on March 21, 2013. Police said Elkins shot 13-month-old Antonio Santiago between the eyes after the boy's mother refused to hand over her purse when she was threatened while walking in coastal Brunswick, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) south of Savannah.

Elkins was ineligible for the death penalty because the crime occurred three months before his 18th birthday. But after a jury convicted Elkins of malice murder and other crimes, Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelly sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of parole, though the teen's defense attorneys argued that punishment was too harsh.

In a ruling Friday, the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the guilty verdicts against Elkins, finding "the evidence presented at trial was legally sufficient to support (Elkins') convictions." But the court also ruled the trial judge erred later by refusing to hold a hearing on Elkins' claim that his attorney ineffectively handled a motion seeking a new sentence.

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