De’Marquise Elkins Case Has Racial Tensions Boiling Over

De’Marquise Elkins was convicted this week of shooting a 13-month-old boy point-blank in the face during a failed robbery attempt, but online the case has refused to go away as it kicks up racial tensions.

Elkins is an 18-year-old African-American from Brunswick, Georgia. This week a jury found him guilty of malice murder, felony murder, and other charges in the shooting death of the baby, who was asleep in a stroller when the teen tried to rob his mother, Sherry West. Elkins was also convicted of shooting West during the encounter.

Even before the trial began, it started to generate controversy. In the days after De’Marquise Elkins and 15-year-old Dominique Lang were arrested, tensions rose in Brunswick as some callers to local radio shows used inflammatory language when referring to the suspects. Rev. Kenneth Adkins, the pastor of a local church said “covert racial tension” was always present in Brunswick but grew much worse after the Elkins’ arrest.

The trial was later moved from Brunswick to Cobb County because of the publicity surrounding the case. But in Cobb County De’Marquise Elkins faced an all-white jury made up of nine men and three women, and his attorney plans to appeal on the grounds that Elkins wasn’t given a fair trial.

“If you were a 17-year-old black man from Brunswick, Ga., and you were expecting a trial of your peers and 12 white people showed up to try your case, however hardworking, however impartial, you could understand why Mr. Elkins would be concerned,” said Public Defender Kevin Gough.

The case also created controversy online. Several right-leaning publications have questioned why the De’Marquise Elkins case hasn’t generated the same level of media attention and outrage as the Trayvon Martin killing. Other more overtly racist publications have used the case as an example of the prevalence of black-on-white crime.

De’Marquise Elkins faces life in prison for the murder.