Sherry West defended her recollection of how her 13-month-old child was fatally shot in Brunswick, Georgia, as she testified Wednesday against De'Marquise Elkins, the teen accused of pulling the trigger.
Defense attorney Kevin Gough questioned West on cross-examination about why she seemed to have trouble identifying Elkins in a photo lineup shortly after the March 21 shooting.
"I believed it was him. I just remember being sure it was him," she said.
Gough also asked the Georgia mother why she made statements to police that indicated she thought her first son's death was connected to the shooting. Her first son was stabbed to death in 2008 in New Jersey at age 18.
"Never said that," West fired back.
In her testimony Tuesday, West told what she remembered from the day of the shooting. She said she was pushing her son, Antonio Santiago, in a stroller down a street in the coastal town when two teenagers tried to mug her.
"I told him I have a baby and I have expenses and I didn't have it. He asked me if I wanted him to shoot my baby. I told him please, don't shoot my baby. He shot a warning shot into the ground," West said, weeping. "I asked him why are you doing this, please don't do this. It felt like he shot me in the ear. Then he shot me in the leg. My left leg."
West said one of the teens then did the unthinkable -- he aimed for the baby.
"I tried to stop him. I put my arms over my baby, but he still shot him," she said. "He walked over and shot my baby."
Gough's cross-examination of West ended abruptly Tuesday when he asked her if she had starved her other child. The prosecution objected, and the jury was sent out of the courtroom as the attorneys argued over the defense attorney's line of questioning. The judge ruled in favor of the prosecution and said he would tell the jury to disregard the question when court reconvened Wednesday morning.
Gough also grilled West about a life insurance policy she had on her child, and why she was so quick to call the company the morning after the shooting. He claimed that she needed the money and didn't realize the policy didn't pay much, because it was designed to grow as the child got older.
Elkins, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, is facing multiple charges, including malice and felony murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is facing life in prison. The death penalty is not an option in Elkins' case because a Georgia law prohibits anyone who is under 18 years old during the commission of a crime from being executed.
Intense media attention and public outrage pushed a judge to move Elkins' trial from Glynn County, Georgia, to Cobb County, near Atlanta.
The teenager accused of being Elkins' accomplice is Dominique Lang, who was 15 years old at the time of the shooting. Although Lang is a minor, HLN is identifying him because he is charged as an adult, and media outlets have been naming him since his arrest.
Lang has also pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges against him, which include felony murder. He will go on trial later, separately from Elkins, and also faces life in prison. Lang testified against Elkins earlier in the trial, identifying him as the shooter.