A Marseilles man pleaded guilty Friday to murdering a baby boy in June.
Jeffrey L. Price, 30, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. As part of Price's agreement, prosecutor Greg Sticka agreed to ask for no more than a 40-year prison term when Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. sentences Price at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 19. Whatever the term, Price must serve 100 percent.
Sticka said the baby was nine days old when he suffered multiple blows to all parts of his body, with the fatal blow fracturing the back of the infant's skull. The attack took place in a Marseilles apartment Price shared with the mother, who was not present during the attack. Price initially claimed a dog inflicted the injuries.
The mother tried tending the baby's injuries before taking the child to OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa. The child was later taken to OSF Healthcare's Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria, where he died a few days later. Price was soon arrested.
Sticka explained the child's mother was in sexual relationships with Price and another man, not knowing which man was the father. Price and the other man were aware of each other's connection to the mother. Price frequently argued with the mother and the man about paternity, telling the mother he did not want to raise the other man's baby.
A psychiatrist recently examined Price, finding he was mentally fit for trial. At Friday's court hearing, Price's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Doug Kramarsic noted in passing that Price has difficulty reading. Price was unemployed at the time he was arrested.
Price answered "yes sir" and "no sir" in reply to questions Friday from judge Ryan, such as whether he understood the consequences of pleading guilty and whether anyone coerced him into making the plea.