The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 26, 2012

Joplin man sentenced for role in child's alcohol-poisoning death

By Jeff Lehr
Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — The uncle, in whose home an 11-year-old Joplin boy died of alcohol poisoning from a drinking game with the uncle’s girlfriend, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Circuit Judge David Dally assessed Dale G. Phillips the prison term for his role in the death of Tyler J. Fecko on July 27, 2009. The judge sentenced Phillips, 29, to 10 years for second-degree murder and five years for felony child endangerment, with the terms to run concurrently.

Phillips pleaded guilty to both counts Jan. 30 in a plea deal with the Jasper County prosecutor’s office. The agreement limited the sentences he might receive to 13 years and five years, which are the length of prison terms that his girlfrIend Linda L. Petrait, 29, received from Circuit Judge David Mouton for the same convictions.

Petrait was accused of engaging in a chugging game with Fecko. She was drinking vodka, while the boy drank Jim Beam whiskey.

A probable-cause affidavit filed at the time alleged that Phillips challenged his nephew to engage in a drinking contest with Petrait and handed him several drinks poured from the whiskey bottle. But he later claimed in an interview with detectives that he never saw the boy drink any whiskey, that he actually took the bottle away from him and that he was unsure who may have given him any.

The boy reportedly went to sleep around midnight and was found the next morning unresponsive and not breathing. Doctors determined that he died of alcohol poisoning.