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Relative, lawyer defend Ga. teen baby-shooting suspects

Russ Bynum / AP

Luis Santiago tries to comfort Sherry West at her apartment Friday, March 22, 2013, in Brunswick, Ga., the day after their 13-month-old son, Antonio Santiago, was shot and killed. West says she was walking her baby in his stroller when a teenage gunman demanding money shot the baby in the face and shot her in the leg. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — 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.


Glynn County Detention Center/AP

This Friday, March 22, 2013 photo provided by the Glynn County Detention Center shows De'Marquise Elkins, 17, one of two teenagers arrested Friday and accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face and wounding his mother during their morning stroll in Brunswick, Ga. Elkins is charged as an adult with first-degree murder.

Elkins and 15-year-old Dominique Lang are charged in Thursday's shooting of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago who was in his stroller on a walk with his mother, Sherry West, who was also shot. Both suspects are charged as adults.

At a Monday hearing, Lang came into the courtroom shackled and wearing a baggy orange jumpsuit, The Florida Times-Union reported.

The teen glanced at the few members of the media allowed into the courtroom for the initial appearance as he shuffled to a lectern facing Glynn County Magistrate Tim Barton.

The magistrate told the boy he couldn't set a bond because only Superior Court judges can do so in murder cases.

"I'm going to see that you get a lawyer immediately," Barton said.

Lang was in the eighth grade at Glynn Middle School before his arrest, said Jim Weidhaas, a spokesman for the school system.

The teen's relatives said Lang would never get involved in such a crime. Lang's grandmother, Verdell Hunter, told WJXT-TV in Jacksvonville the boy is a baby himself, not a baby killer. A call to Hunter was not answered and it was unclear Monday night if the teen had an attorney.

Elkins was last a student in October 2011, when he left Ombudsman, an alternative school program, Weidhaas said.

Sherry West said she was walking home when two boys confronted her to try to rob her and one of them opened fire. Police say she was shot in the leg, and her baby was shot in face.

Gough said he has demanded a bond hearing and filed a request for a speedy trial for Elkins.

"We look forward to our day in court," he said.

West has said she picked the gunman out of a photo lineup of 24 mugshots and insists he killed her baby.

The Associated Press