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Spencer Weikal murder trial set for Dec. 3, 2013; taped confession ruled admissible by judge

Spencer Weikal feature case

By Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — A trial date for Spencer Weikal, 24, of Wellington has been set for Dec. 3, 2013 in Sumner County District Court.

Weikal is charged with two felonies – first degree murder and aggravated endangering of a child – stemming from the death of 2-year-old Larrissa Foster, on Nov. 30, 2011.

Sumner County District Judge Scott McQuin also recently denied Weikal’s attorney’s request that videos, including a taped confession to law enforcement during the night of questioning, be suppressed from the pending jury trial. 

Weikal Attorney Christopher Williams of Kansas City, Mo. filed a suppression motion resulting in a May 8, 2013 hearing that included seven testimonies from the Wellington Police Department and Sumner County Sheriff’s office. During the hearing, McQuin closed the courtroom to view a video tape of the alleged confession with only the prosecuting and defense attorney present.

McQuin would eventually deny the defense suppression request stating Weikal “knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waived his Miranda rights, twice”; and “that his statement to law enforcement were the product of his free and independent will.”

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Weikal’s actions

McQuin also allowed the admissibility of evidence surrounding Weikal’s actions after leaving the hospital in Wichita and returning to Wellington on Nov. 29, 2011 and early morning Nov. 30.

According to a court document submitted by prosecuting attorney Lee Davidson of the Kansas Attorney General’s office, Weikal was the live-in boyfriend of Kayla Murphy, mother of Larrissa Foster. On Nov. 29, 2011, Murphy and Weikal spent most of the day together at his uncle Brian Brown’s house. In the late afternoon, Weikal drove Foster and Murphy to the Oak Tree Inn where Foster was scheduled to work the evening shift. Weikal and Foster allegedly returned to Brown’s home. Murphy then talked to Foster on the phone at about 8 p.m.

“It was the last time she would speak to her daughter,” Davidson said in the document.

Allegedly, at 10 p.m. the defendant drove Foster back to the Oak Tree Inn and had a co-worker find Murphy because Foster was having trouble breathing.

The two of them took the toddler to Sumner Regional Medical Center where the staff found the child to be unresponsive and in cardiopulmonary arrest. They intubated the child and readied her for transport to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.

According to the document, Weikal and Murphy returned to the Oak Tree Inn to borrow money for gasoline for the trip to Wichita. After fueling up their vehicle, the two drove to Wichita and eventually located Wesley Medical Center.

At Wesley, medical workers questioned the two about Foster’s injuries and eventually called law enforcement. Before the Wichita Police officers could question him, Weikal allegedly left the hospital without telling Murphy. He returned to Wellington.

Meanwhile, Sumner County E911 broadcasted a “be on the lookout” alert for Weikal, who reportedly was driving Murphy’s red Toyota Corolla.

According to the document, Sumner County Sheriff Deputy Lee Patterson was parked in the SRMC parking lot visiting with Wellington police officer Kurt Vogel. He spotted the Corolla traveling southbound on A Street at a high rate of speed. By the time Patterson was at the corner of 15th and B Street, the car was traveling south on B Street just crossing 10th Street, still at a high rate of speed.

Patterson tried to catch up to the vehicle as it turned east onto Lincoln Street then south on Ash Street then east on First Street then south onto Cherry Street where it ran the stop sign and turned east on Mill Street before coming to a stop at 901 S. Cherry Street, the Brown residence.

Weikal then, allegedly, fled the Corolla and hid near a parked vehicle. Patterson found him hiding a short time later and placed him under arrest. Patterson had E911 search for Weikal’s driving record and learned that his license was suspended.

Patterson read Weikal his Miranda Rights and briefly questioned him at the scene, according to the document. In the process, Patterson recounted Weikal’s driving violations. Patterson then transported Weikal to the Wellington Police Department for further questioning.

Later that morning, Wellington Police Department Detective John Defore and Sumner County Sheriff’s Detective Frances Stevenson interviewed Weikal. They asked him about his departure and he explained he was traveling to Wellington to pick up his mother for emotional support and getting some clothes before returning to Wesley.

In its analysis on the document, the state concluded that Weikal’s flight from Wesley when he had a suspended license, his flight from Patterson by driving in a reckless manner and hiding thereafter was proof of his guilt.

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Case background

Foster would eventually die on Nov. 30, 2011 and Weikal was subsequently charged that day by the county attorney’s office, who was then Evan Watson.

A Sumner County District Court preliminary hearing was held in May, 2012 which McQuin determined there was enough evidence for a trial. Weikal pleaded not guilty.

The original date for a jury trial was set for November, 2012. However, after several delays, the case was turned over to the state attorney general’s office after the Sumner County Attorney changeover from Watson to Kerwin Spencer, who said he could not adequately prosecute the trial because of the already cumulated workload in the case. Davidson, an assistant attorney for the attorney general’s office, took over the case. Weikal also switched attorneys: from court appointed Elaine Esparza to privately hired Williams.

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