Spencer Weikal was found guilty of second degree murder Friday in the November 2011 death of 2-year-old Larrissa Foster of Wellington.
The 25-year-old Wellington man appeared in Sumner County Dist. court where he pleaded no contest to charges of second-degree murder, abuse of a child and endangering a child. He was found guilty by Judge Scott McQuin and had sentencing set for 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 29.
Weikal was facing a December trial on charges of first-degree murder. There is now no need for a jury trial.
His murder charge was reduced in severity as part of a plea agreement with the Kansas Attorney General’s office, which had taken over prosecution of the case from the county attorney’s office.
Weikal faces between 12 and 54 years on the murder charge alone. Debbie Murphy, Foster’s maternal grandmother, expressed sorrow after the proceedings.
“I’m not happy about sending a young man to prison,” she said. “I’m OK with the prison time he will receive.”
Weikal, who was wearing a gray jumpsuit with a black beaded neckless, was stoic at the beginning of the hearing. But as McQuin asked him several questions about the understanding of the court pleas he was about to make, he became visibly upset.
Foster was first taken to a Wellington hospital with severe head trauma and later transferred to Wesley Medical Center. She died there on Dec.1, 2011. Wesley medical staff almost immediately suspected child abuse.
Police investigators said Weikal attempted to explain Foster’s injuries as an accident, even though he acknowledged he was angry. In a police interview, discussed during a preliminary hearing in 2012, investigators said Weikal acknowledged he rushed down some stairs with Foster and banged her head on the wall “pretty hard.”
He is said to have told police the little girl spun out of his arms and hit the last two stairs.
According to court documents submitted by Assistant Attorney General Lee Davidson, 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 Murphy 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,” the document said.
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.
On Friday in court, Davidson added that Weikal was angry with Larrissa around 9 p.m. and that was when the alleged abuse occurred. Spencer Weikal’s cousin, Nick Weikal, had arrived at the house at 10 p.m. to see that Foster was not breathing correctly and moving in and out of consciousness.
Yet, Davidson said, Weikal was sitting on a couch smoking a cigarette.
“There is no guarantee that Larrissa would have survived,” Davidson said. “Yet there was no sense of urgency from Weikal. Perhaps, things could have been different had he sought immediate medical attention.”
Weikal quickly became a suspect in the case and at one point fled briefly from authorities. He was arrested around the time of Foster’s death and has remained in jail ever since.
McQuin raised his bond from $250,000 to $500,000 on Friday.
(Shane Farley contributed some of the information for this report.)