After doctors found that a young St. Louis area boy was constantly ill because he had AIDS, a police investigation concluded that the boy’s father intentionally injected H.I.V.-tainted blood into his son.
The father, 31-year-old Brian T. Stewart, pleaded not guilty today to charges of first-degree assault. The charge will be upgraded to murder if the child dies, prosecutors said.
The investigation was undertaken because doctors were mystified about the source of the child’s disease because tests after his birth showed he was not born with the disease. In addition, there were no signs of sexual abuse and the child is not a hemophiliac.
The authorities said the boy was apparently infected with the disease in February 1992, when he was 11 months old and was being treated for respiratory problems at St. Joseph Hospital-West in St. Charles County. They believe Mr. Stewart stole the tainted blood from a St. Louis hospital, where he worked as a laboratory aide.
The police said that Mr. Stewart wanted to kill his son to avoid paying child support.
Mr. Stewart and the boy’s mother met in January 1990, and the child was born 13 months later.
After the couple separated, Mr. Stewart refused to pay child support, denying he was the father, the authorities said. Tests later confirmed that he was the father.
Last year, Mr. Stewart was ordered to pay child support of $267 a month, plus $25 a month in back payments.
The child’s mother had said that Mr. Stewart told her not to bother asking for child support, because the boy would not live long.
Because of the notoriety of the case, the police were taking extra precautions to protect Mr. Stewart at the county jail. They have not released the name of the child, now 7.
The police spent nearly two years investigating the case. Mr. Stewart was arrested on Tuesday at a St. Louis University outpatient center, where he was working as a medical assistant. He is on administrative suspension from his job at the university.