Another turn in baby-shooting saga
James Henry Brooks accused of influencing witness, obstructing law enforcement
The investigation into the shooting of a baby in Brunswick, Georgia -- a crime that's grabbed national headlines -- has taken yet another turn with the arrest of a local politician.
The arrest stemmed from a verbal exchange between Brunswick City Commissioner James Henry Brooks and the family of one of the teen suspects in the slaying during the suspects' first court appearance on Monday.
According to his attorney, Brooks told the family of De'Marquise Elkins, 17, that they didn't have to talk to police.
"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," Brooks' attorney Alan Tucker told reporters Friday.
Brooks is a distant relative of the Elkins family, his wife, Alicia Brooks, told CNN. She did not know exactly how they are related.
The 59-year-old commissioner was charged with influencing a witness and obstructing law enforcement in an investigation, the Glynn County Sheriff's Office said. Brooks was arrested Thursday, posted $5,000 bond and left jail Friday afternoon.
Tucker said his client was not trying to interfere with the investigation.
"I don't know why he spoke with the Elkins family other than the fact that they are constituents of his," the attorney said. "The public defender's office put a statement out earlier in the week, and I think that there were many people in the community who maybe thought that these two young men had not committed the crime with which they are charged with, and evidence has come to light and the gun was found."
Under the terms of his bond, Brooks is not allowed to have any contact with the victims, witnesses, potential witnesses or investigators involved in the investigation of the murder of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago, who was killed March 21.
The child's mother, Sherry West, has said that two teenagers came up to her in the street in broad daylight. One pointed a gun at her and told her 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, hitting her in one leg and barely missing her head. The teen, she said, then shot her baby in the face.
Elkins and Dominique Lang, 15, 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 Thursday.
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.
Elkin's mother, Karimah Aisha, and his sister, Sabrina, made their first court appearance Friday and were ordered held without bond, according to Ron Corbett, the Glynn County's undersheriff.
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 as the investigation continues
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.'"
The boy tried to grab her purse and opened fire when she told him she had no money. One shot hit her in the leg and one grazed her head. The boy then shot the child.
West tried to resuscitate her son as bystanders called 911 for help.
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