De'Marquise Elkins A teenager who shot and killed a baby will be headed to prison for the rest of his life. De'Marquise Elkins was 17 when he killed 13-month-old Antonio Santiago in his stroller, right in front of the baby's mom, Shery West. That's spared him the death penalty for the heinous crime.
But Elkins' lawyers say even life without parole is too much for Elkins because he was an abused kid. Well, it's a thought anyway, huh?
Elkins' legal team has really pulled out all the stops to try to keep their client on the streets. A few weeks ago, they were pinning the blame for the little boy's death on his own mother. That failed in court, ending in a murder conviction.
So then they put up the claim that Elkins has had a tough life, spending the past seven years being neglected by a mother who struggled with drug abuse and sometimes left him at home alone without food. The way the lawyers tell it, a kid who has been through all that deserves a break.
But does he, really?
When you consider the heinous nature of the crime?
There's certainly room for sympathy for children who were abused. And there may even be a link between their childhoods and their behavior. According to the National Child Abuse Hotline, "children who experience child abuse & neglect are about nine times more likely to become involved in criminal activity."
An estimated 14 percent of all men in prison and 36 percent of women in prison in the USA were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen in the general population.
Abuse in childhood may indicate a risk of criminal behavior as one gets older. Note that I said risk. It's possible it may happen, but then again, it's possible it will not. There are thousands of law-abiding good citizens who grew up in abusive homes but have decided not to repeat the pattern.
They prove that you can be better than your childhood.
Elkins' abusive childhood may explain who he is today. But it doesn't excuse his crime. Nothing excuses shooting a defenseless 13-month-old in cold blood.
And what would it say about that child's worth if Elkins were not punished to the fullest extent of the law for stealing his life away?
I'm glad the judge chose to sentence the teen to the maximum possible punishment for his murder conviction, plus 105 additional years in prison for other counts including aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery. Apparently 10 days before shooting little Antonio, he also shot a pastor (who survived), a crime that accounts for 30 years of his sentence. His childhood didn't make him do that; it doesn't excuse that he did that.
What do you think of the sentence here? Do you have sympathy for this killer?
Image via police