Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dad FINALLY charged with murder in 2011 "disappearance" of 4-month-old daughter (Luddington, Michigan)

It's about time that dad SEAN PHILLIPS was charged with homicide.

Baby Kate's mother sobs on the stand as she clutches daughter's clothes while testifying at ex's hearing to see if he'll be charged with 4-month-old's murder

Sean Phillips, 23, from Michigan, is charged with murder of 4-month-old Katherine Phillips, known as 'Baby Kate'

The court hearing starts on Thursday in Ludington, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids, and could last for two days

By Louise Boyle

Published: 11:10 EST, 3 April 2014 | Updated: 16:31 EST, 3 April 2014

The mother of missing Baby Kate testified today as the first witness at a hearing to determine if the child's father should stand trial for murder.

Sean Phillips, 23, from northern Michigan, is charged with murder in the disappearance of four-month-old Katherine Phillips, who is known as 'Baby Kate'. She hasn’t been seen since 2011 and her body has never been found.

The baby's mother Ariel Courtland took the stand on Thursday, where she clutched the tiny pink shorts and floral dress that she had last seen her daughter wearing.

Miss Courtland told judge that she did not believe in her heart that her former partner could deliberately harm his infant daughter, according to a WZZM report.

However she said that Phillips would not acknowledge his daughter, hiding birth announcements with his name in his car so that his parents would not find them.

Prosecutors said previously that Phillips took the baby from her mother because he feared a court-ordered paternity test would show he was the father.

The court hearing started on Thursday in Ludington, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids, and is expected to last for two days.

Phillips has been in prison since 2012 for a crime related to the case. He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for unlawful imprisonment for failing to return the child to her mother.

Investigators have tried to find a body by examining seeds and other plant material on Phillips’ shoes. There have been extensive searches in Mason County.

Baby Katherine was four-and-a-half months old when last seen June 29, 2011, in the Ludington area, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Baby Kate's mother Ariel Courtland testified last year that she last saw her daughter in a car seat in the back of Phillips' vehicle.

Police found Phillips about three hours after Ms Courtland reported her daughter's disappearance.

Officers found an empty car seat and diaper bag in the trunk and found the infant’s balled-up, inside-out clothing in his pocket.

Investigators have said that seeds and other material on Phillips' shoes could be crucial to locating a body.

Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola said that since Phillips' conviction on the related charge, detectives have spent ‘countless hours’ on the case.

‘This continuing investigation has included review of biological evidence, site visits, and the enlistment of experts from all over the world who are preeminent in their fields,’ Mr Spaniola said.

In July 2012, Phillips wrote a shocking letter from behind bars to Baby Kate's mother, confessing to killing the child in a fit of rage and then dumping her body in the middle of nowhere.

Kate Phillips - known in the area as Baby Kate - disappeared on July 29, 2011, and Phillips was arrested the same day.

In his letter published last September, the convict wrote how he ripped the child's car seat from the vehicle without realizing she was sitting in it, fatally injuring Baby Kate as she is thrown to the ground.

The open murder charge means a jury can consider both first- and second-degree murder.