In a case that has drawn attention around the country, 18-year-old De'Marquise Elkins stood silent and showed no emotion as he was sentenced less than two weeks after a jury found him guilty of murder in the slaying of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago during a robbery attempt.
    
"His first word was never heard. His first sentence was never said," Sherry West, the baby's mother, said through tears on the witness stand as she read a statement made to rhyme like a poem or a nursery rhyme. "He never got to sleep in a toddler bed."
    
The baby was in his stroller and out for a walk with his mother when he was shot between the eyes on March 21 in the Georgia coastal city of Brunswick. West and a younger teenager charged as an accomplice testified at trial that Elkins killed the baby after his mother refused to give up her purse.
    
Elkins was spared the death penalty because the killing occurred when he was 17, which the US Supreme Court has ruled is too young to face capital punishment. Under Georgia law, the only possible punishments for Elkins were life with or without a chance of parole.
    
But Elkins' defense attorneys told Judge Stephen Kelley that life without parole was too harsh for such a young defendant. They introduced court documents from the past seven years showing Elkins had been neglected by a mother who struggled with drug abuse and sometimes left him home alone without food.
    
The judge not only gave Elkins the maximum possible punishment for his murder conviction, but also sentenced him to 105 additional years in prison for other counts including aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery. That included 30 years for shooting and wounding a pastor outside his church 10 days before the baby was killed.

"We're definitely disappointed with the ruling. Life without parole for a juvenile, our position remains, is cruel and unusual punishment," defence attorney Kevin Gough said as he left Glynn County Superior Court.

(Agencies)

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