JOPLIN, Mo. (KMOX) — Two Joplin residents could find themselves in prison for more than a decade after an 11-year-old boy died from alcohol poisoning.

Linda Petrait, 29, pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree murder and second-degree child endangerment in the death of Tyler Fecko, who died after consuming a lethal amount of whiskey.

An Associated Content story that ran around the time of the July 27, 2009 incident found court documents stating that Tyler was challenged to play drinking games with Petrait and Tyler’s uncle, Dale Phillips. The games ended for both supervising adults, however, when Tyler’s condition deteriorated at a rapid rate.

“We received a medical distress call at 9:50 a.m. Upon our arrival, we found the boy unconscious and not breathing,” Lt. Brian Lewis of the Joplin Police Department told CBS St. Louis, who added that Tyler weighed just 55 pounds. “The boy was then taken to a local hospital, where he passed away.”

The couple was initially released after reportedly telling authorities that Tyler snuck into a liquor cabinet in their home after they had already fallen asleep. When caught trying to leave town by other family members, however, the truth about the incident began to unfold.

They were arrested and each held on $50,000 bonds.

Phillips, also 29, maintained his innocence and pleaded not guilty to both second-degree murder and first-degree child endangerment. A trial is pending in the matter of his case.

In accordance with the agreement Petrait made with prosecutors, she could spend up to 13 years in jail for the murder charge alone, with an additional five years spent imprisoned for the child endangerment charge.

If convicted, Phillips would face similar punishments.

“This is an exceptional circumstance, of course,” said Lewis of the situation. “He was 11 (when this happened).”


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