From Ricky Irby’s appeal:
On May 31, 1984, three-month-old Quinten Irby suffered severe injuries to his face, mouth, esophagus, trachea and lungs as the result of being force-fed a caustic substance while in the care of his mother, Sheila Smith. Quinten remained in Children’s Memorial Hospital (Children’s Memorial) for 27 months where he was treated for various problems stemming from those injuries and died as a result therefrom on August 26, 1986.
Defendant, who was Quinten’s father, and Sheila Smith (Sheila) were indicted for first degree murder, later amended to murder, on May 31, 1989. Separate counsel was appointed for defendant and Sheila. Defendant filed several motions to dismiss and motions in limine. Defendant sought to prevent the State from introducing evidence or testimony relating to chemical testing of certain physical evidence, which was lost by the State. An open can of baby formula, an unopened can of baby formula, a baby bottle, sink traps from Sheila’s residence, defendant’s pants, a piece of fabric from defendant’s father’s car, and testing data were lost sometime between September 1984 and January 1985. Defendant’s motions were denied.
Defendant was tried for murder on the basis of accountability. It was the State’s theory that defendant aided Sheila in injuring Quinten to obtain a financial settlement from the manufacturer of the formula by blaming the cause of the injuries on the formula. Through a stipulated exhibit, it was established that defendant, as special administrator of Quinten’s estate, filed a civil lawsuit for wrongful death against the manufacturer of the formula, Ross Laboratories, a subsidiary of Abbott Laboratories, on August 18, 1987. The lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed by defendant on July 18, 1988.
In May 1984 defendant, then 24 years old, and Sheila, 23 years old, had two children, Ricky, Jr., born in 1980 and Quinten born in February 1984. While defendant and Sheila once shared an apartment, defendant had moved in with his parents in North Chicago a few months before this incident. Sheila and the two children resided at Sheila’s mother’s house a few blocks from defendant.
Tinnie Smith, Sheila’s mother, testified that Sheila was out of formula and purchased a can on the night of May 30, 1984. Sheila fed Quinten about 7:30 p.m., and he was fine. There were several baby bottles in a cabinet. Tinnie said there were cans of formula that “had a little bit open.” The open can of formula that Sheila fed Quinten from on May 30 was placed in the refrigerator. Tinnie was not home when Quinten became sick. While at the hospital, she observed that Sheila was upset and crying. When Tinnie got home from the hospital, she did not recall seeing any bottles around the house.
Sheila’s brother, Alvin Ray Smith, lived in Tinnie Smith’s house. Sometime before 8 a.m. on May 31, 1984, Sheila asked Alvin to hold Quinten while she got a bottle. Quinten appeared fine. After Alvin went downstairs to his room, Sheila screamed for him. He observed Quinten vomiting but thought the baby was too full.
Several witnesses testified that Sheila indicated that Quinten was vomiting on the morning of May 31, 1984. However, the paramedic, a nurse at St. Therese Medical Center (St. Therese), and police officers who inspected the house found no evidence of vomiting on Quinten’s clothing or the furniture.
A paramedic who responded to Sheila’s call found what appeared to be chemical burns around Quinten’s mouth, chin and neck. He said Sheila was totally calm and callous while the woman with her was excited and concerned.
A St. Therese Medical Center nurse, Mariann Hannas, testified that the bottle had a small amount of clear liquid covering the bottom, and she detected no odor from it. There was nothing wrong with the nipple. The open can of formula was black around the openings and the top which she described as corroded.
Mariann Carlton, a nurse at St. Therese, spoke with Sheila in the emergency room. Sheila told Carlton that she put Quinten on the sofa while she went in the kitchen to prepare a bottle. The only other person present was Sheila’s three-year-old son. Upon returning to Quinten, Sheila said he had trouble breathing and had injuries to his mouth.
Carlton said that when defendant arrived at the emergency room, she told him that Quinten was injured and the hospital needed to know what happened. Defendant said it had to be the formula and that he was going to sue Abbott Labs. He repeated that it had to be the formula. Carlton told defendant that the hospital needed to know what caused the injuries, and defendant left to retrieve any items. He returned with a baby bottle and a can of formula. She could not recall any other items defendant brought back.
The police report of Carlton’s June 25, 1984, statement to Officer Robert Witkowski did not include defendant’s remark about the formula. Carlton indicated she told the police this information. Witkowski later testified on cross-examination that he did not recall Carlton telling him about defendant’s formula remark and that he would have put it in his report if she had.
Carlton testified that the can of formula defendant returned with had a dusty, dirty lid and the inside smelled “tainted,” unlike merely spoiled formula. The lid was already open with two triangular holes. She did not recall how much formula was in the can, but the police report indicated that she found very little. The baby bottle did not contain any formula but had a film-like substance like old baby formula on the sides. It also smelled tainted.
Sheila’s older sister, Willie Bea Smith, testified that she was at her home when she received a call from Sheila about 8:30 a.m. on May 31, 1984. Sheila indicated Quinten was sick. When Willie Bea arrived at Sheila’s about 10 minutes later, the ambulance was already there. Sheila was upset and crying, but Willie Bea did not speak to her at that time.
Willie Bea left St. Therese when she heard that Quinten was being moved to Children’s Memorial. She had not heard any conversations about Quinten’s injuries. Willie Bea left her mother and Sheila at the hospital although they did not have their own transportation. She explained, however, that when she left, Quinten had not yet been moved to Children’s Memorial.
Willie Bea said there was no reason why she went to Sheila’s house. She knew defendant was going there because he told her that the hospital sent him to get the formula. Willie Bea said defendant did not need a ride and did not need assistance to enter the house.
At Sheila’s house Willie Bea found an open can of formula in the refrigerator. She did not observe any other cans of formula. She took the open can to the kitchen sink and poured a small amount of liquid down the drain “to see how it looked.” She described the can as “quite full,” “almost a full can,” more than or half full, but later said it was more than one-half full. The top of the can was clean. The formula looked and smelled normal. She then gave the can to defendant; he did not grab it from her. During his testimony defendant said the formula looked normal when Willie Bea poured it down the sink. It also looked normal when it spilled on the car seat.
Dr. Michael Oster, the emergency-room physician who treated Quinten at St. Therese, explained that the burns were caused by a strong acid or chemical applied within about an hour of the injury. Anywhere from 15 to 30 c.c.’s of the substance would have been necessary to cause the injuries. Quinten would not have voluntarily consumed the substance due to an immediate reaction to it. The substance was adeptly administered to the mouth due to the lack of burns elsewhere on the body. Oster opined that this could have been accomplished with something like a kitchen baster or poured directly from a baby bottle. Dr. Carol Gerson of Children’s Memorial was of a similar opinion as Oster. Oster did not recall speaking directly to defendant that day. Oster said he told a nurse to send the police to the house to look for something that may have caused the injuries. However, on June 19, 1984, Oster told Officer Witkowski that Oster told defendant to go home and look for anything which contained acid or alkaline to which the baby had access.
A nurse at Children’s Memorial, Cindy Etzler, spoke with defendant and Sheila on May 31, 1984, and June 1, 1984. Defendant indicated on May 31 that he suspected a problem with the formula due to the damage to his pants. Etzler did not recall noticing any damage. One of the parents mentioned another, yet unopened can of formula that was purchased with the other can. She asked that anything relating to the injuries be brought to the hospital. Defendant brought the pants and the unopened can to her on June 1, 1984. Etzler said that Sheila rarely cried and defendant did not show much emotion or concern.
Barbara White, a social worker at Children’s Memorial, spoke with Sheila and defendant on June 1, 1984. Sheila told her virtually the same version of events that Carlton reported. Defendant repeatedly said there was something wrong with the formula, but Sheila said the formula was fine. Defendant told White about the incident of spilling the formula in the car. Sheila eventually said the formula caused the injuries. There was no reaction from either parent when White told them that there would be an investigation by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). White also observed that throughout the interview there was no emotion shown by the parents.
North Chicago police officers Eugene Williams and Dirk Philipp were dispatched separately to Sheila’s residence to search for chemical substances that a three-year-old (defendant’s son) could have obtained. Williams arrived about 10 a.m. on May 31, 1984, and spoke to defendant briefly. Willie Bea was in the house too. Defendant told him that defendant had searched the house for chemical substances and found nothing that Ricky, Jr., could have gotten into. Defendant did not interfere with the search. The officers took an almost empty bottle of lighter fluid from the house. Neither officer found any cleaning materials, towels or rags in the house; however, they did not go in the basement. There was no evidence of a bottle preparation in the kitchen, and they did not see any bottles.
Illinois State Police Officer Witkowski testified regarding defendant’s statement made on June 25,1984. Defendant told the police that his baby suffered the injuries from something in the formula and Abbott Labs was going to pay for his baby for the rest of his life. Defendant indicated that he received a call from Sheila about 9 a.m. on May 31, 1984, telling him that Quinten was sick. He borrowed his father’s car, drove to Sheila’s residence, and then went to the hospital. Personnel there told him to return to Sheila’s and look for any items that may contain acid or alkaline. Defendant took the bottle, open can of formula, Quinten’s cough medicine and a container of vinegar from Sheila’s and brought it to the hospital. He said Willie Bea tried to pour the formula down the kitchen sink when defendant grabbed the can from her.
En route to the hospital, the can spilled on the front seat. Defendant wiped the area with a wet cloth. About 1:30 p.m. defendant returned the car to his father, and defendant sat in the area where the can spilled when his father drove him back to St. Therese.
Children’s Memorial wanted an unopened can of formula, and personnel asked defendant to go get it at Sheila’s. Defendant stopped at his parents and discovered a hole in his pants which he said came from the formula on the car seat. He changed and put the pants in the car. Then he took an unopened can of formula from Sheila’s.
Defendant said he went to work that night at Future Disco from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and went to the Children’s Memorial, where he turned over his pants and the unopened formula. Defendant and Sheila stayed at the hospital throughout the night.
Defendant said that on the night before the incident he was fishing at Grass Lake and had not been to Sheila’s. He had recently bought a new Chevy Camaro with proceeds from a civil settlement in a different lawsuit. Defendant said Sheila hired an attorney the day after the incident, and they would be suing Abbott Labs.
Drs. Carol Gerson and Zehava Noah treated Quinten during his long stay at Children’s Memorial. His injuries became worse over time. He had multiple surgical procedures to remove inflammatory tissue and scarring from his airway. His right lung was removed due to aspirating acid. He was ventilated through a tracheotomy and fed with a tube to his stomach. Quinten’s brain and heart were also affected. An autopsy showed that Quinten died as a result of the chemical/acidic injury of May 31, 1984.
Quality assurance personnel from the manufacturer of the baby formula testified. It was shown that in order to contaminate the formula during production, an entire batch of 60,000 cans would have to be tainted. There was no evidence of contamination at the source. The baby formula with iron, like the cans involved here, would contain ferrous, and not ferric, iron.
Testimony showed that defendant was employed for American Motors/Renault manufacturers (now Chrysler Corporation) from September 4, 1979, until December 21, 1979. He started there again on October 18, 1983, and was laid off on January 10, 1984. Defendant was called back to work on June 11, 1984.
Defendant’s mother corroborated the fact that defendant used his father’s car on May 31, 1984, and that defendant went to work that night. Defendant’s father, Willie Irby, testified that defendant returned the car before noon on May 31. He said there was no stain on the bench seat until defendant borrowed the car. The stain was almost in the middle of the seat, near the armrest.
North Chicago police officer Donald Owens removed the stained fabric from Willie Irby’s car on June 4, 1984. He cut out the entire area of the stain which was about 2 by 5 inches. The spill was on both sides of the armrest if it were lowered. Officer David Williams said the fabric was removed from almost the center of the seat.
Dr. Douglas Lewis, a toxicologist at Children’s Memorial, tested some of the physical evidence on May 31 and June 1, 1984. The open can of formula contained about an ounce of liquid which separated into a watery material on top and curds on the bottom. He used a pipette to remove a sample and found it extremely acidic. The bottle had a very small amount of liquid which tested negative for drugs as did the formula. The gastric aspirant taken from Quinten was highly acidic which was not unusual. It was not tested for the presence of formula. However, Quinten’s bronchial secretions were highly acidic which was unusual.
Lewis took a sample of the clear material from the open can and sent it to Hazelton Labs in Madison, Wisconsin. A chemist with Hazelton, Darryl Sullivan, testified that there was an unusually high level of sulfate in the material, but he did not state the amount by volume. Lewis said the Wisconsin lab found “3 molar” or 20% by volume of sulfate. The gastric aspirant was not tested for formula at that lab.
Dr. Joerg Pirl, a toxicologist with the Department of Public Health, began tests on the evidence on June 6, 1984. The open can of formula had visible corrosion around the triangular openings on the top and sides. Its contents were noticeably coagulated and curdled. Sulfuric acid would curdle immediately upon contact with another substance. He found 2.9 normal or 8% concentrated sulfuric acid by volume in the open can. The formula had several more times the amount of ferric iron than the formula from the second can (initially unopened can). However, Pirl explained that the iron in the open can was being produced by the corrosion of the can from the acid. He admitted his iron test was semiquantitative at best and somewhat subjective, and he tested for ferric and not ferrous iron.
Pirl extracted the remaining amount of liquid from the bottle. It showed 2.5% concentration by volume of sulfuric acid. It was negative for ferric iron. Since the levels were different, Pirl opined that the liquid in the bottle did not come from the can.
The material from the car seat tested positive for sulfuric acid but virtually negative for iron. He also tested the damaged area of defendant’s pants and found it mildly acidic. After a series of tests on the pants, Pirl concluded that the contents of the open can could not cause the damage.
Pirl found no sulfuric acid in the lighter fluid, vinegar, cough medicine or sink traps. Any acid in the traps would have been flushed away by running water. Pirl last saw the physical evidence and file data in his supervisor’s office, where he left it in September 1984. In January 1985 he discovered it was lost.
Christopher Lageotakes testified that he was a jail inmate with defendant in August 1989. Lageotakes had been charged with aggravated battery at the time. He subsequently was found guilty of battery and was serving a four-year prison term in a downstate penitentiary. He had convictions in Arkansas for forgery, burglary and theft. A theft charge had been dismissed when he was found guilty of battery.
Lageotakes, defendant, and another inmate, Robert Melock, were discussing their cases in August 1989. Defendant said that he paid off someone to lose the evidence in his case. Defendant told Lageotakes that defendant wanted money to start a business with unnamed friends so he devised a plan to get money from Abbott Labs by hurting Quinten with acid. Defendant had discussed the plan with his girlfriend about a month before the incident. Defendant obtained the “rare” acid from someone he knew from school who got it from a lab. Before defendant went fishing on May 30, 1984, he went to his girlfriend’s house and switched a tainted can of formula or bottle, Lageotakes was not certain which, for an untainted one. Defendant said his girlfriend’s sister was there.
Defendant went to his family’s house after fishing. Defendant told Lageotakes that defendant was at his mother’s house when he learned Quinten was injured. Defendant said his attorney had evidence that defendant was not trying to launder money because defendant had put down $5,000 on a new Chevy Camaro. Defendant’s lawyer had advised defendant to drop the lawsuit against Abbott, and defendant said he had dismissed it.
During cross-examination Lageotakes admitted sending a letter to the State’s Attorney about two weeks before his testimony. He wanted to negotiate a deal whereby he would be transferred to another institution in exchange for this information, but no deal was made. He still wanted to be transferred and said a transfer was important to him. He admitted defendant’s case was in the press, and he had access to newspapers while incarcerated. Lageotakes had visitors in jail. The State’s Attorney came to interview him at prison and expressly told him there would be no deal for his cooperation. Lageotakes denied being threatened with obstruction of justice charges if he refused to testify although a lawyer told him he would have to testify since he gave a statement. Lageotakes said he did not expect anything for his testimony. During post-trial proceedings, defendant showed Lageotakes was transferred to another institution, but the transfer could not be linked to this case.
After the State rested, defendant’s motion for a directed finding was denied. Donna McGrath testified for the defense. She was a nurse at St. Therese on May 31, 1984. In observing the open can of formula at that time, she said the top of the can was corroded and pitted, “whitish” in color. There was not much material in the bottle.
The defense was going to call Robert Melock, the inmate Lageotakes said was present during defendant’s admissions. Since Melock was going to take the fifth amendment, the parties agreed to a stipulation. The stipulation provided that Melock would testify that the conversation with defendant and Lageotakes did not take place in his presence; Melock was biased against the State and perhaps the prosecutor in particular; and it would be adverse to his interests to admit the conversation took place.
Defendant’s cousins, Lynn Epps, Lynn’s father, Arthur Epps, and Lynn’s nephew Shane Formel testified about the fishing trip to Grass Lake with defendant on May 30, 1984. Defendant and Lynn left Lynn’s place of employment about 4:30 p.m. on May 30, 1984, in Peter Custer’s van. They stopped at defendant’s house and then Lynn’s. Defendant wanted some food stamps for snacks so they went to Sheila’s house. Defendant was wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt and carried nothing in his hands when he went inside. As defendant left the house about five minutes later, Sheila and defendant had words. Defendant and Lynn picked up Arthur and Shane, and they went to the lake. They left the lake about 2:30 a.m., and defendant was dropped off at his house. Defendant borrowed Peter’s orange Mazda on May 31 to go to the hospital.
Joel Brodsky, an attorney, testified that Sheila came to his office on June 2, 1984, regarding a products liability action arising out of the tainted formula she gave to Quinten. Sheila was referred to Brodsky by a hospital employee. She signed a retainer but defendant did not.
Brodsky referred the case to John Navigato’s office. Navigato testified that his firm represented Sheila and perhaps defendant in a DCFS action in 1984. Navigato filed the formula lawsuit on August 18, 1987. Prior to suit defendant was appointed special administrator of Quinten’s estate and named as the plaintiff in the suit. Defendant was chosen because of the common surname with Quinten. Defendant did not sign a retainer. Navigato had no knowledge of his firm advising Sheila to file a paternity action against defendant or advising defendant to admit paternity in order to be named as the special administrator. The court later took judicial notice that on September 23, 1986, defendant admitted paternity of Quinten.
Dinah White, a child welfare supervisor with DCFS, interviewed Sheila about 3 p.m. on June 1, 1984. Sheila said Quinten vomited a green and yellow liquid on May 31, which Sheila knew was acid based on her schooling. White interviewed defendant at 2:30 p.m. on June 1, and he said he believed there was something in the formula. He told White about damaging his pants as a result of sitting where the formula spilled.
Defendant testified on his own behalf. About 4:30 p.m. on May 30, 1984, defendant and Lynn Epps borrowed a van from “Pete” to go fishing. They stopped briefly at Sheila’s for food stamps, but Sheila was upset and had words with defendant. Lynn and defendant were then joined by Arthur and Shane at Lynn’s house. They arrived at Grass Lake about 7 p.m., and defendant was home about 3:15 a.m. on May 31. Defendant’s father testified that defendant came home about 1:30 a.m. Defendant had stopped by Sheila’s house in the morning of May 30, 1984, but did not go inside.
On May 31 Sheila called defendant and said Quinten was vomiting and asked defendant to take Quinten to the hospital. Defendant borrowed his father’s car because his car’s brakes were bad. During a deposition taken on June 21, 1988, in the civil lawsuit against Ross Labs (Abbott), defendant said his car was filled with fish. At Sheila’s house, defendant was told Quinten and Sheila were already at the hospital. Upon defendant’s arrival at St. Therese, Sheila did not know what happened to Quinten, but that he was “vomiting and stuff.”
According to defendant, a nurse and a doctor asked him to retrieve anything Quinten may have eaten and any acidic or alkaline substances from Sheila’s house. No one mentioned anything to defendant about Quinten having had any formula. Defendant went to Sheila’s where he read labels on various items to see if they were acidic or alkaline. He found a baby bottle in the living room. In the kitchen he found Willie Bea pouring a can of formula down the drain. He asked her what she was doing and she made no response. During the 1988 deposition, defendant said Willie Bea said “oops” and put the can on the counter. At trial defendant said he grabbed the can from Sheila. Defendant did not see any other bottles, formula or baby food. He took a jar later identified as vinegar, cough medicine, the open can of formula and the bottle. He spoke with police outside but defendant could not recall what was said. On the way to St. Therese, defendant nearly collided with another car, and the can spilled on the front seat.
Defendant brought the car home about noon because his father had to go to work. He denied saying that he was going to sue Abbott Labs during the time he was at St. Therese.
At his parents’ house, defendant wiped the seat where the formula spilled. His hand was not burned. His father drove him back to St. Therese. Defendant sat partially in the area of the spill. Later, defendant borrowed a car from “Pete” (Pete Custer) in order to get to Children’s Memorial. In defendant’s 1988 deposition he said he drove his car to Children’s Memorial and denied using Pete’s. At trial, defendant said he did not know Pete’s name at the deposition.
About 8 p.m. while in the waiting room at Children’s Memorial, defendant felt a sensation on his leg and noticed a small rip on the side of his pants. Defendant realized the rip was in the area where he partially sat on the formula spill. He told Sheila there must have been something wrong with the formula. Defendant told a nurse, and she sent him home to get an unopened can of formula as well as to return the damaged pants to the hospital. Defendant’s leg was not injured or burned.
Defendant testified that he went to Sheila’s house after changing his pants and took an unopened can of formula from a closet. He went to work at a disco from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. although he denied going to work in his 1988 deposition. Defendant had been told that Quinten was stable but he was aware that the hospital might not be able to help Quinten. Defendant gave the unopened can and pants to Nurse Etzler in the early morning hours of June 1, 1984.
Defendant denied giving acid to Sheila or anyone in her household. He denied tampering with the formula or bottles and said he did not administer the acid to Quinten. Defendant never suspected Sheila until she pleaded guilty. He explained that when he gave his 1988 deposition he did not have much notice and had refreshed his memory since then. He denied speaking to Lageotakes.
Defendant explained that he was contacted in August 1987 by the attorneys to sign some papers in the formula lawsuit. He had gone with Sheila only once to the attorneys’ office, but had met with the attorneys often in the DCFS action. He signed other papers in the formula lawsuit. He was never told to admit paternity in order to be named in the formula lawsuit. In his 1988 deposition, defendant said he first discussed a lawsuit with Sheila one week after the incident.
Defendant received a settlement of about $7,000 from an unrelated lawsuit in June 1984. During its case in chief, the State had shown that the settlement agreement was dated June 5, 1984, and the check was dated June 20, 1984. The State also showed defendant bought a new Chevy Camaro on June 15, 1984, and applied for credit on June 5, 1984. Defendant put down $4,000 on the car with monthly payments of $300. He saved $2,000 to pay bills although he could not recall what bills. He paid nothing for Quinten’s hospital or funeral expenses. Defendant denied needing money at the time of the incident and expected to return to work. However, he did not have $300 to repair his car; had no money for snacks on May 30, 1984; went to work at the disco on May 31, 1984, because he needed money; and he could not afford to live in an apartment when he was laid off from American Motors in January 1984.
Dr. Robert Eberhardt, a forensic toxicologist, and Dr. Russell Nelson, a chemist specializing in cellulose chemistry, testified for the defense. Since the physical evidence was not available, they relied on the test results from the State’s experts and various other material such as police reports, trial testimony, etc. They also conducted experiments. Eberhardt indicated that Dr. Lewis must have misspoken during his testimony regarding his recollection that the acid was at “3 molar” and then calculated 20% by volume. Eberhardt said the calculations were reviewed with the prosecution and that Lewis meant the acid was “3 normal” or about 10% by volume and that everyone who had conducted an analysis of the open can of formula was in that range.
Eberhardt and Nelson agreed with earlier testimony that Quinten’s injuries must have been caused by a concentration of acid stronger than 8% by volume. Studies indicated that up to 10% concentration of sulfuric acid would have a negligible effect on human skin. Eberhardt indicated that a separation would occur when acid was added to the formula and a curd and a liquid would result. He also said corrosion would begin right away even at 2.9 normal. Nelson testified that the protein portion of the formula would be “denatured” upon addition of the acid and curdling was possible.
The witnesses criticized Pirl’s methodology and his conclusions with respect to Pirl’s tests for iron and the effects of acid on defendant’s pants. Regarding the spill on the car seat, they explained that acid would penetrate to the foam of the car seat and be forced to the surface through compression, i.e., sitting on the seat. The acid would not damage the seat fabric in the same way as the cotton pants because the seat fabric was synthetic.
Eberhardt and Nelson expressly disagreed with Pirl’s conclusion that the damage to the pants could not have come from the can of formula. They noted that photographs of the pants did not show a “charring” as Pirl indicated. After describing various problems with Pirl’s methods and based on their own experiments, the experts concluded that defendant’s pants could have been damaged as a result of the spill in the car. The experts noted that studies showed there would be no burning or injury to defendant’s skin by contact with a solution up to 10% volume of sulfuric acid.
After defendant rested, the State offered rebuttal which has already been incorporated into these facts. A stipulation was entered which showed several inconsistencies between defendant’s trial testimony and his 1988 deposition in the formula lawsuit.
In finding defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the trial court noted that it did not know when and how the acid got into the (Sheila) Smith household, what happened to the other bottles or why the State did not call Sheila. The court would not draw a negative inference against the State for not calling Sheila as a witness. It believed the hospital personnel regarding defendant’s reaction to sue and believed that defendant did speak to Lageotakes. However, it found defendant not credible based on his demeanor and inconsistent statements. It also found Pirl’s testing unconvincing, referring to Pirl’s tests for iron and the tests for the effects of acid on defendant’s pants. The court indicated this was not essential because the tainted can did not cause the injuries.
Defendant’s post-trial motion was denied. Defendant was subsequently sentenced to an extended term of 80 years in prison.
Find-A-Grave: Quentin Irby
Parents charged with murder in acid poisoning of baby
Couple Charged in Baby’s Death From Drinking Acid
Mom Admits Poisoning Son, Will Testify Against Mate
Mom pleads guilty in 6-year-old poison death of baby
Mom admits poisoning her infant son as part of plot
Mother pleads guilty to killing son
Father Is Found Guilty Of Poisoning Baby Son
The People of the State of Illinois v Ricky Irby, Sr. 1992 (conviction and sentence affirmed)
The People of the State of Illinois v Sheila Smith 1993 (conviction and sentence affirmed)
Ricky Irby Sr. – convicted, sentenced to 80 years in prison
Sheila Smith – pled guilty, sentenced to 60 years in prison
B04322 – IRBY, RICKY
Parent Institution: LAWRENCE CORRECTIONAL CENTER
Offender Status: IN CUSTODY
Location: LAWRENCE CORRECTIONAL CENTER
Date of Birth: 07/19/1961
Weight: 250 lbs.
Height: 6 ft. 05 in.
MARKS, SCARS, & TATTOOS
SCAR, ELBOW, LEFT – SCAR LEFT ELBOW
SCAR, EYEBROW, RIGHT (EYE AREA – SCAR OVER RIGHT EYE
ADMISSION / RELEASE / DISCHARGE INFO
Admission Date: 07/11/1990
Projected Parole Date: 06/01/2029
Last Paroled Date:
Projected Discharge Date: 06/01/2032
OFFENSE: MURDER/INTENT TO KILL/INJURE
CUSTODY DATE: 06/01/1989
SENTENCE: 80 Years 0 Months 0 Days
SENTENCE DISCHARGED?: NO
B07424 – SMITH, SHEILA
Parent Institution: LOGAN CORRECTIONAL CENTER
Offender Status: IN CUSTODY
Sex Offender Registry Required
Date of Birth: 11/08/1962
Weight: 220 lbs.
Height: 6 ft. 00 in.
MARKS, SCARS, & TATTOOS
SCAR, BACK -
PIERCED EARS -
TATTOO, LEG, LEFT – HEART
DISCOLORATION, LEG, LEFT – ON KNEE
ADMISSION / RELEASE / DISCHARGE INFO
Admission Date: 07/25/1990
Projected Parole Date: 06/01/2019
Last Paroled Date:
Projected Discharge Date: 06/01/2022
OFFENSE: MURDER/INTENT TO KILL/INJURE
CUSTODY DATE: 06/01/1989
SENTENCE: 60 Years 0 Months 0 Days
SENTENCE DISCHARGED?: NO
Filed under: crime, murder, murder in the 20th Century, Parents Gone Wild! | Tagged: 1986, crimes against children, homicide, Illinois, Parents Gone Wild!, poisoning, Quinten Irby, Ricky Irby, Sheila Smith | Leave a comment »