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Friday, March 29, 2013 - 11:32am
The investigation into the shooting of a baby in Georgia -- a crime that's grabbed national headlines -- took yet another turn Friday with the arrest of a local politician.
Brunswick City Commissioner James Henry Brooks is the fourth person outside of two people charged with the murder to be arrested in the constantly developing case. The 59-year-old is accused of influencing a witness and obstructing law enforcement in the investigation, the Glynn County Sheriff's Office said.
Brooks is being held in jail pending a court appearance, according to authorities.
The commissioner's attorney, Alan Tucker, told reporters Friday that his client wasn't trying to interfere with the investigation.
"What he was trying to do, at the point and time that he was approached here at the courthouse, was just tell these folks you have a right to remain silent, don't talk to police unless you have an attorney present, and I think that was the crux (of) what caused the problem," Tucker said.
The attorney didn't explain who exactly approached his client.
Later Friday morning Brooks' released a statement through his attorney in which he said he was "trying to protect the rights of his constituents." The statement also said he didn't know that police have alleged that two people involved in the case were lying to authorities.
The slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago happened in broad daylight on March 21, according to authorities.
The child's mother, Sherry West, has said that two teenagers came up to her in the street. One pointed a gun at her and told her, she said, that if she didn't give him her money he would shoot her and shoot her baby.
West said that the teen fired at her, hit her in the leg and barely missed hitting her in the head. The teen, she said, then shot her baby in the face.
Authorities say those teenagers are De'Marquise Elkins, 17, and Dominique Lang, 15, and both have been charged with murder.
Elkins' mother, aunt and sister have also been arrested on various charges alleging that they have hindered the investigation.
The sister, 19-year-old Sabrina Elkins, was arrested on an evidence tampering charge, the Glynn County Sheriff's Office said.
She was named in a grand jury indictment, released Wednesday, accusing her of helping her mother get rid of the gun authorities say was used to kill the child.
Authorities did not reveal her alleged role in disposing of the gun, which police found in a pond 2.3 miles from where the baby was shot.
Sabrina Elkins "was part of that, and that's the most I can answer of that question right now," Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said.
The grand jury also indicted Elkins' mother, Karimah Aisha Elkins, 36, and aunt, Katrina Latrelle Elkins, 33, on charges of making false statements or writings, among other things.
None of the women is accused of involvement in the shooting itself.
The same grand jury that indicted the women also named De'Marquise Elkins and Lang as being involved in the shooting, prosecutors said.
Elkins is accused of malice and felony murder, along with other charges. Lang is accused of felony murder.
Although Lang is a minor, CNN is identifying him because he is charged as an adult and media in the community have been naming him since his arrest.
Investigators are looking into the possibility of a gang tie to the shooting, Doering said.
"That's being explored, whether a gang involvement was part of this," he said. "And that's all that I can say right now."
Doering declined to say whether more arrests were possible. He said investigators remain in the field, working leads and searching for evidence.
West gave this account to police about the shooting:
One of the boys pointed a gun at her and said, "'Give me your money or I'm going to kill you and I'm going to shoot your baby and kill your baby.'"
West said the boy tried to grab her purse and opened fire when she told him she had no money. He then shot at her -- hitting her in the leg and grazing her head, then shot the infant.
West tried to resuscitate her son as bystanders called 911 for help.