Woman charged in Shawnee fire that killed toddler son pleads guilty
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A Shawnee mom charged with multiple felonies in the fire that killed her young child in February has pleaded guilty.
Karlie Phelps, 28, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.
Crews had responded at 12:54 a.m. on Feb. 13 to a house on West 69th Terrace near Larsen Lane and found the single-family home engulfed in flames. While searching the house, firefighters found a young child’s body in a crib in a downstairs bedroom, according to court documents.
An autopsy revealed the toddler, Nicholas Ecker, was still alive as the fire raged, as indicated by his lungs being “full of soot,” according to the medical examiner. The child suffered severe burns throughout his body.
Shortly after the fire, the child’s father — also named Nicholas Ecker — was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated arson.
A police interview of Phelps indicated she left the child at home in his crib so she could go out to a home in Kansas City, Kansas, and buy prescription pain medication from a man whose name was redacted in the court documents. During that time, the affidavit indicates Ecker was texting with Phelps, “upset about some flowers,” but the court documents don’t further explain.
At that time, Phelps got on the phone with Ecker, and the man Phelps was with heard her tell him that their son “was in the house. Why did you do that?” Phelps then received several calls saying her house was on fire, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Court documents state Phelps, after the fire, let police download the information on her phone, and it revealed the following text conversation between Phelps and Ecker:
Ecker: “where is jr. please tell me you have jr. something is wrong”
Phelps: “Nothings wrong no he’s sleeping in bed smh I have the camera on him wyd there nick?...”
Ecker: “baby something is not right.”
Phelps: “Go get junior NOW. HES INSIDE YOU DIMB ASS I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU STARTED THAT FIRE. YOU KILLED OUR BABY!! And you could’ve killed me!!!”
Ecker’s next court hearing is a scheduling conference to be held on Sept. 21. He remains in the Johnson County jail on a $1.1 million bond.
The sentencing hearing for Phelps has been set for Oct. 6 at 9 a.m.
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