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Sean Phillips’ murder trial of ‘Baby Kate’ goes to defense

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) — After eight days of testimony, prosecutors in the Sean Phillips murder trial have rested their case.

Phillips is accused of murdering his 4-month-old daughter, Katherine Phillips, who became known as Baby Kate after she disappeared in June 2011.

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Baby Kate was last seen alive with her father in Ludington.  Her body was never found.

The first witness called Tuesday morning was detective Tom Posma, who was the lead investigator in the Baby Kate case. Posma said Baby Kate’s clothes, which were found inside Sean Phillips’ pocket, were inside-out, indicating they were pulled off the child.

Assistant Attorney General Donna Pendergast then rested her case against Sean Phillips.  It’s unclear if his defense lawyer will call additional witnesses before closing arguments begin.

In court Monday, Phillips’ defense attorney reminded the jury that there is no hard evidence that Kate is dead.

“Anywhere in here that it shows any evidence of a death?” defense attorney David Glancy asked a Ludington police detective. “We have lots of phone calls, but there’s no…”

“That’s correct,” the detective answered.

Since Baby Kate’s remains have never been recovered, much of the case against Phillips, now 26, is based on circumstantial evidence, including a letter he allegedly wrote in prison in which he confessed that he pulled Kate’s car seat from his car and that she was thrown from it. Prosecutors drew attention to that letter in court last week.

In eight days of testimony, jurors heard from Kate’s mother, Ariel Courtland; Phillips’ mother, Kim Phillips; officers who spoke with Phillips on the day Kate disappeared; Phillips’ neighbors; experts in DNA, cellphones and computers; and a man who was in prison with Phillips and said he admitted to getting rid of Kate.

Regardless of what the jury decides in this trial, Phillips will remains behind bars: he was convicted of unlawful imprisonment in Kate’s case in 2012 and sentenced to between 10 and 15 years prison.

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