(CBS/AP) SAVANNAH, Ga. - A 17-year-old teenager accused of shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face in a Georgia neighborhood is also charged with shooting another person in an unrelated robbery attempt earlier this month, according to an indictment returned Wednesday.
The indictment by a Glynn County grand jury charges De'Marquise Elkins on nine counts, including malice murder. He and a 15-year-old suspect are accused of shooting young Antonio Santiago to death on March 21 a few blocks from his home in coastal Brunswick.
The younger suspect was indicted on seven counts including felony murder. But the indictment specifies that authorities believe it was Elkins who shot the child and wounded his mother with a .22-caliber revolver as the boys tried to steal money from her.
District Attorney Jackie Johnson of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit said in a statement Thursday she would not seek the death penalty against either suspect because Georgia law doesn't allow capital punishment for defendants charged with crimes committed before they were 18. Both teens are charged as adults.
Elkins was also indicted on two counts in a second attempted robbery and shooting that happened 10 days before the baby was slain. According to the indictment, Elkins tried to rob Wilfredo Calix-Flores on March 11, pointing a gun at him while demanding his cellphone and wallet.
Elkins shot Calix-Flores in the arm with the same caliber revolver used to kill the baby 10 days later, the indictment said. He is charged with attempted robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.
Kevin Gough, a public defender representing Elkins, said he felt prosecutors rushed to indict his client before collecting all available evidence. Gough asked a judge for a preliminary hearing next week to determine if prosecutors had sufficient evidence to charge Elkins. The indictment means a grand jury has already made that determination and Elkins' attorneys won't get early looks at the evidence against him.
"It's a major setback in the sense we would like to have an opportunity to test the strength of the evidence against our client," Gough said.
Kimberly Copeland, the attorney for the 15-year-old suspect, said she planned a vigorous defense but had no further comment.
"I believe in the innocence of my client," Copeland said.
Sherry West, Antonio's mother, reportedly said she was pushing her baby in a stroller as she walked home from the post office when two teenagers approached her asking for money. West said the older teen drew a gun at her when she refused and shot her in the leg before shooting her son in the head.
Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said Wednesday that investigators believe the crime was random.
"We're comfortable now, six days into it, to say the location of the incident and the victim were random," Doering said. "I don't have any information that shows otherwise."
The grand jury also indicted three of Elkins' relatives on charges that they tried to help him after the shootings.
The suspect's mother, Karimah Elkins, and older sister, Sabrina Elkins, were charged with evidence tampering. The indictment said they threw the revolver that police suspect was used in the shooting into a saltwater pond where investigators recovered it Tuesday. Doering said the gun is being tested to see if it can be linked to the child's slaying.
Karimah Elkins and the suspect's aunt, Katrina Elkins, were also charged with making false statements to police. The indictment said the aunt told investigators her nephew was at her house when the slaying occurred. The suspect's mother told police that her son was with her when the baby was shot.
Elkins' public defender said he strongly believes his client is innocent. Gough filed a court motion asking a judge to grant him access to mental health records of the slain boy's mother, saying they could be important to determining whether she's a credible witness.
"Obviously we're concerned about her credibility her ability to accurately recall events and identify anybody," Gough said. "If she suffers from any conditions that would do that, it would certainly be relevant to the case."