Prairie Village man accused of setting Shawnee house fire that killed infant pleads not guilty

A motorbike driven by Nicholas Ecker lays on it side in the yard in front of the home he's charged with intentionally setting on fire on Feb. 13. File photo credit Mike Frizzell.

A Johnson County judge has found sufficient evidence to support all five charges against a Prairie Village man accused of intentionally setting a fire at a Shawnee home in February that killed his 17-month-old son.

What’s the latest: Nicholas Ecker, 28, appeared in Johnson County District Court Wednesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to five felony counts against him.

  • Those charges include first-degree murder, aggravated arson with risk of bodily harm, aggravated domestic battery, stalking after being served and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The home where the fire occurred on W. 69th Terrace in Shawnee was heavily damaged and has since been demolished. Photo credit Mike Frizzell.

What’s next: Ecker’s next court appearance will be a scheduling conference on Sept. 21, when a trial date could be set.

Mother also charged: The boy’s mother, Karlie Phelps, 28, is also facing charges in connection to the child’s death.

  • She has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter of a child under the age of six and a misdemeanor of endangering a child under the age of 18.
  • A second felony, for possession of oxycodone, was filed 13 days after the fire.
  • She was arrested again in March, nearly a month after the fire, and charged with two new misdemeanors for allegedly violating a protection order and for intimidation of a witness.
  • Phelps is scheduled for a plea hearing next Thursday.

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