(WHEN HE WAS A BABY) IS NOW 18"
The Rae Carruth case, where a former NFL player was responsible for orchestrating the death of his pregnant girlfriend, to avoid paying child support was extremely tragic and disturbing. Carruth is now serving a 20-year sentence without parole. This case is also frightening and tragic. The psychotic lengths some people will go to-to avoid paying child support.
ST. CHARLES, Mo. - Brryan Jackson has been left out of birthday party invitations and asked not to use water fountains. His daily routine at one point included 23 pills, three IV medications and two injections. But the toughest part of growing up with AIDS for him may be knowing how he got it.
When he was a baby, his father entered his hospital room and injected a syringe of HIV-tainted blood into his tiny body. At times during his childhood, he was expected to die.
Now 18, he'll put on his black cap and gown Saturday and graduate from Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, near St. Louis. Shielded from the public for much of his life since his father's high-profile criminal trial a decade ago, Brryan is now an outspoken advocate for people with AIDS, and the power of faith and forgiveness.
Brryan's mother, Jennifer Jackson, and his father, Brian Stewart (above left), were together for about two years, off and on, in the early 1990s. After Jackson became pregnant and had the child, Stewart denied he was the father. Paternity tests proved he was.
In 1992, Brryan was 11 months old when he was hospitalized with asthma. After leaving the hospital, he was constantly sick. Doctors ruled out one illness after another.
Finally, in 1996, the child was near death when he was diagnosed with AIDS. But doctors were puzzled about how he got the disease. He wasn't born with it, and had not had blood transfusions. That's when suspicion turned to Stewart.
Stewart worked at a St. Louis hospital as a phlebotomist — his job was drawing blood from patients. Brryan's mother said Stewart came to Brryan's hospital room during that 1992 stay and suggested she go get a bite to eat.
Prosecutors said he had a syringe filled with HIV-tainted blood tucked inside his lab coat. They said he waited until he was alone with the boy and injected him.
There were no witnesses, but at trial in 1998, Jackson and others testified that Stewart had access to tainted blood and previously had threatened to use it as a weapon.
The defense contended the boy could have been infected other ways, perhaps from a medical procedure. But prosecutors argued that Stewart wanted the family out of his life, and didn't want to pay child support.
Stewart was convicted of first-degree assault and received the maximum sentence, life in prison. At sentencing, Judge Ellsworth Cundiff said he was in the same category as "the worst war criminal" and added, "I believe when God finally calls you, you are going to burn in hell from here to eternity." Stewart showed no remorse at the trial.
To distance himself from his father — and to protect his identity growing up — Brryan changed his name from "Brian." He has not been in contact with Stewart but said he has forgiven him.
"God wants us to forgive people," he said. "Am I going to make myself as low as he is? ... I've got to be the better person."
Stewart, now 42, remains in a Missouri prison and is eligible for parole in two years. He declined to be interviewed for this story and said he did not wish to have an attorney comment on his behalf.