The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 30, 2012

Man enters guilty plea for drinking-game death


From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — The uncle who challenged 11-year-old Tyler Fecko to a drinking game that led to the Joplin boy’s death pleaded guilty today to murder and child-endangerment charges.

Dale G. Phillips, 29, changed his pleas to guilty in Jasper County Circuit Court on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree child endangerment in a plea deal with the Jasper County prosecutor’s office.

Fecko died of alcohol poisoning on July 27, 2009, after being found unconscious in the home of his uncle on East Central Street. Police alleged that he had consumed shots of Jim Beam whiskey with the uncle’s girlfriend the previous night in response to his uncle’s prodding.

The plea agreement would limit the prison time the defendant may be required to serve to no more than 13 years for the murder conviction and five years for endangerment. The deal calls for the two terms to run concurrent.

Circuit Judge David Dally set a sentencing hearing for Phillips for March 26.

Circuit Judge David Mouton assessed Linda Petrait, the defendant’s 29-year-old girlfriend, concurrent terms of 13 years and five years earlier this month for convictions on the same two charges.