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Shawnee mom receives 3 years probation in infant son's death in fire

Underlying term is 18-year sentence if probation violation occurs
Karlie Phelps mug.jpg
Posted at 11:03 AM, Oct 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 13:28:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Shawnee woman was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the death of her son in a fire on Feb. 13, but a Johnson County judge granted a defense motion to a dispositional departure from that sentence and instead placed her on three years of probation.

Judge Timothy McCarthy granted Karlie Phelps, 28, the dispositional departure Thursday, meaning she will serve the three years of probation rather than going to prison. However, any violation of probation will result in Phelps serving the balance of her 18-year sentence.

Phelps also was ordered to pay a $120 probation fee and report to community corrections.

She pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering a child in August.

Court documents show that she admitted to leaving her child alone in a residence located at 10500 block of West 69th Terrace to drive over to a friend's house in Wyandotte County.

When she arrived at the scene of the Shawnee home fully engulfed, a law enforcement officer heard her say, “I lit it. No. I know I put it out. That would be an accident," according to court documents.

Phelps then blamed the child’s father, Nicholas Ecker, for the incident. The Shawnee Fire Department determined the fire was intentionally set.

The plea agreement called for Phelps to receive a 12-month sentence for the child-endangerment conviction to run concurrent with the involuntary manslaughter conviction.

Phelps was remanded to the Johnson County Sheriff's Department for a work-release screening.

Additionally, as part of Phelps' plea agreement, prosecutors dropping a felony drug-possession charge in addition to misdemeanors for violating a protection order and intimidation of a witness.

Her current bond is set at $250,000.