by: Shae Rozzi Updated:GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. —
A former metro Atlanta resident facing first-degree murder charges for allegedly shooting a baby made his first appearance in court Monday.
Channel 2's Shae Rozzi spoke to the attorney of 17-year-old De'Marquise Elkins, dressed in a blue buttoned shirt and slacks, as he stood before a Glynn County judge.
Attorney Page Pate, who defends criminals charged with serious felonies across Georgia and is not involved with the case, says he's concerned that police used a photo lineup to identify Elkins as a suspect.
"It's the worst kind of identification," Pate told Rozzi. "It's difficult because the person making the identification was under a lot of stress at the time."
Sherry West told Brunswick police that two teens tried to rob her in a park last week as she pushed her 13-month-old child in a stroller.
When she didn't have any money, West said the teens shot baby Antonio Santiago in the face.
According to published reports, police showed West 25 photographs and she identified Elkins as the shooter.
Pate says photo lineups are less reliable when a person from one race is identifying a suspect from another.
"If you have a white person, a Caucasian person trying to identify an African-American teenager, especially, social scientists have done studies and have looked at situations in a controlled environment when they know this is not the right person and yet somebody identifies them," Pate said.
Dominique Lane, 15, also had a first court appearance.
Pate says Georgia law requires anyone 13 and older who is charged with murder to be charged as an adult.
He explained that prosecutors have until after the teens are indicted to inform the court and the defendants whether they plan to seek the death penalty.
"In Georgia, you don't have to ask for the death penalty in order to keep people in prison for the remainder of their life. You can ask for life without the possibility of parole," Pate said.
West is hoping prosecutors seek the death penalty to get justice for her baby boy.
"I can't believe they could shoot a baby in the face," West told reporters. "He never got to say his first words. My family never got to see him. He was the newest addition to the family and I was supposed to bring him in July for a visit."