Parents of infant boy killed in Shawnee house fire both make new court appearances

A firefighter on the scene of the house fire in February that left a 17-month-old boy dead. File image.

Nicholas Ecker and Karlie Phelps, the father and mother of an infant boy killed in a Shawnee house fire earlier this year, both made court appearances on Thursday morning.

Both have been charged in the death of their 17-month-old son, who was killed in the February house fire that investigators say was intentionally set.

Ecker appeared remotely Thursday from the New Century Adult Detention Center near Gardner, where he is still being held on a $1 million bond.

He faces one charge of first-degree murder and another for aggravated arson in connection with the fire.

Phelps appeared via Zoom video conferencing Thursday from the Gold Bridge Treatment Center in Louisburg, Kansas.

She has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child, a misdemeanor.

In early March, she was rearrested on two new misdemeanor charges, one for allegedly violating a protection order and the other for intimidation of a witness.

Thursday’s court appearances were for scheduling preliminary hearings.

See what court records reveal so far about the investigation into the fire. 

Judge Timothy McCarthy set all of Ecker’s pending cases for Wednesday, August 10, at 1:30 p.m.

Phelps’ attorney Scott Toth told the court that he would like to see the case on a scheduling docket in about 45 days.

“Well, your honor, I think it’s more than likely that we’re going to end up disposing of the case, but right now, full disclosure, Ms. Phelps is in in-patient rehab,” Toth told the court.

Toth went on to say that when his client completes the 28-day rehab program, he will be meeting with the District Attorney’s office to discuss her cases.

Assistant District Attorney Will Hurst reminded the court that there is a non-compliance report on bond for Phelps. He said she had a positive urinalysis test and missed at least one other urinalysis required as a condition of her bond.

“I just want to make sure that the court saw that and addressed it as it saw fit,” Hurst said.

Phelps’ attorney Scott Toth said that Phelps checked herself into the treatment facility after the last urinalysis.

“We anticipate she’s going to do a follow-up in-patient stay at Mirror,” Toth said, referring to a drug and alcohol treatment facility with several locations in the Kansas City metro. “She’s working very hard on her sobriety at this point.”

Judge McCarthy said he saw the report and will take it under advisement during her next scheduling conference.

Phelps’s next scheduling appearance is set for Wednesday, May 18, at 11 a.m.

Mike Frizzell is a freelance crime and fire reporter who runs Operation 100 News.