Can Justice Be Served In Georgia? Questions Come Up About Baby Shooting Allegedly Done By Two Teens

March 29, 2013  |  

I’ve never been to Denmark but something sure does smell peculiar in Brunswick County, Georgia:

According to ABC News:

The lawyer for one of the Georgia teenagers charged with murder in a baby’s shooting said Monday his client is “absolutely” not guilty and the grandmother of the second suspect said her grandson would never be involved in such a crime. “My client is absolutely, 1,000-percent not guilty,” public defender Kevin Gough, who represents 17-year-old De’Marquise Elkins, told The Associated Press. He made the comments Monday, while preparing for Elkins’ first court appearance on the murder charge. It was scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday.”

According to published reports, Sherry West was pushing 13-month-old Antonio Santiago along in his baby stroller when she was allegedly accosted by Elkins and the unnamed minor in a botched robbery attempt in the small coastal town. Said West, the two youths who were trying to rob her allegedly fatally shot the baby in the face as he slept in his stroller after West said she didn’t have any money. West also took a bullet to the leg during the tragic incident.

Although the police chief said robbery appears to be the motive, they admit nothing was taken during the killing. On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of De’Marquise Elkins’ mother and older sister, who were later charged with evidence tampering for allegedly helping the suspect in the shooting dispose of the gun used in the shooting into a saltwater pond, which was also recovered by police that same morning. And just yesterday, new reports are saying that police now suspect Elkins of being involved in a robbery/shooting of a local pastor, who was robbed of his cell phone and wallet in the same vicinity just days before the fatal shooting death of Santiago.

Despite the public defender’s assertion of innocence, it would appear that the police, along with West, are certain that they have the right people in custody. But then, there is this from the First Coast News/ABC Affliate in Jacksonville, Florida:

As the investigation into the shooting death of a 13-month-old Brunswick toddler continues, some people are beginning to question the mother who’s child was shot and killed during a morning walk. The daughter of Sherry West, Ashley Glassey, said she does not want to falsely accuse anyone but she wants the truth. Glassey, 21, lives in New Jersey and said her mother lost custody of her when she was 8. She said she has forgiven her mom and has spoken to her every day since Thursday’s shooting but said some of her mother’s responses have her concerned. Glassey said she started to have her doubts after receiving a phone call from her mother telling her that her brother, Antonio Santiago, had been killed. She claims the night of the shooting her mother asked, “How soon do you think life insurance policy will send me a check?”

Glassey also goes on to state that her mother is bipolar and has schizophrenic tendencies and said that she reported her suspicions to the Brunswick department but hasn’t yet received a response. This new angle has been lighting up message boards around the web from those questioning certain suspicious behaviors of West after the murder, including interviews she had given so soon after the murder to various news organizations. In one such interview with WJXT in Jacksonville, West curiously speculated if the shooting of her 13-month-old baby was related to the death of her 18-year-old son Shaun Glassey, who was fatally stabbed five years ago in New Jersey. The boy who stabbed Glassey was never charged in the case because the police thought he acted in self-defense, after it was determined that Glassey and four other unnamed juveniles lured the boy via text message to a secluded location and initially tried to use the knife in the murder on him.

I don’t think I can really stomach the possibility that not only do we live in a world where someone was cold-hearted enough to shoot a baby in the face, but a world where there is a possibility that two other children might be wrongfully blamed for it. Personally, I don’t know what to believe. However, I do believe that it is too early to make judgment calls either way. And what this story does illustrate is the rush to judgment that tends to happen when the offender is black. A lot of it is how we have been conditioned. Night after night, we see mugshots of some menacing and bugged-out looking black folks plastered on nightly news and on the front page of newspapers. Usually the crimes that people have been arrested and accused of are so heinous that it has become natural inclination to be repelled and want to disassociate ourselves away from them. However, we forget that they are just accused and not every person accused of a crime is actually guilty. Immediately after local law enforcement released to the media the description of the boys suspected in the shooting, I heard just as many black folks as there were whites praying that police “hurry up and find the person that did it.” Unfortunately when it comes to high profile cases like the shooting of this baby, “hurrying up and finding someone” is what usually happens. And doesn’t mean that they necessarily got the right “someone.”

Like most people, I want justice served in this case. And there are lots of subtleties here, which could make for a perfect storm of debauchery, which will ensure that it will not happen. First, there is the history of racism, classism and segregation in Georgia, which has often served as a historical backdrop for a miscarriage of justice. And let’s not forget about the Central Park Five, the Susan Smith case, the Troy Davis case, and a whole laundry list of other instances where people who had been accused or served time were later revealed to have been wrongly convicted for crimes. Sometimes we forget that even with the best of intent, law enforcement does sometimes make mistakes; get it wrong and flat-out engage in misconduct.

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