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Judge Finds Father Guilty in Acid-Poisoning of Baby

May 19, 1990

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) _ A man accused of poisoning his infant son with sulfuric acid as part of a plot to sue a baby formula manufacturer was found guilty Friday of first- degree murder and could face the death penalty.

Attorneys for Ricky Irby Sr., 29, blamed the child’s mother, but Lake County Associate Judge Harry Hartel, who presided over the non-jury trial, said Irby’s ″demeanor led me to believe he did not testify truthfully.″

″It’s a despicable crime - a mother and father putting a price tag on their baby,″ Assistant State’s Attorney Victoria Rossetti said after hearing the verdict.

Irby and the baby’s mother, Sheila Smith, were charged with murder in the death of the child, Quinten.

Ms. Smith already has pleaded guilty in return for a 20- to 65-year prison sentence.

The baby was hospitalized for 27 months at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago after being force-fed sulfuric acid May 31, 1984. He was 3 months old at the time and died Aug. 26, 1986.

Ms. Rossetti said sentencing possibilities include the death penalty, life in prison, or 20 to 80 years imprisonment. A sentencing hearing was scheduled to begin June 29.

An appeal of the conviction was expected, she said.

Ms. Smith called for a rescue squad after she said she found Quinten vomiting.

Irby met Ms. Smith at St. Therese Medical Center in Waukegan and when a nurse told him the baby had injuries to his mouth, his immediate response was: ″It had to be the formula. I’m going to sue Abbott Laboratories,′ ′ prosecutors said.

An Abbott subsidiary manufactures Similac baby formula.

Ms. Rossetti called the verdict ″a victory for Quinten because nobody else thought about him.″

″He suffered vision and hearing loss, became mentally retarded, underwent 19 medical procedures in a year to clear his airways before having to have a lung removed,″ she said. ″All the suffering was because his father wanted money the easy way, the quick way.″

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