Preliminary Hearing for Baby Kate’s Father

LUDINGTON, Mich. (April 3, 2014) — It’s a case that has gained national attention, the search for missing 4-month-old Baby Kate.

Katherine Phillips was last seen in June 2011.  Her father, Sean Phillips, is currently serving time for unlawful imprisonment but is now facing an open murder charge.

Thursday was the first day of his preliminary examination where the judge will decide if there is enough evidence to send him trial.

In October of last year, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced his office would assist in the prosecution of the case, charging Phillips with open murder despite Kate’s body never being found.

Defense Attorney David Glancy is also getting some high profile assistance in the case, working alongside former U.S. Attorney, John Smietanka and a former head of West Michigan’s FBI office, Gene Debbaudt.

Ludington Baby Kate 01

Ariel Courtland, Kate’s mother, was the first witness to take the stand Thursday; she described how Phillips wanted her to get an abortion or put Kate up for adoption.

Ariel and Phillips already had one child together and she testified that Phillips said it wouldn’t financially fit and he was set to leave for deployment soon. She also claimed that Phillips’ parents wouldn’t have approved of them having another child together.

Ariel testified that on the day that Kate went missing, it was the same day Phillips was scheduled to take a paternity test and that they argued about adoption again on that day.

She testified that on the afternoon of June 29, 2011, Phillips drove off with Kate in his car.

The defense worked to paint Phillips in a different light, talking about the relationship he had with Kate and that he wasn’t a violent person.

While we have heard much of this information in Phillips’ previous trial, the prosecution is confident in the evidence they have on this open murder charge.

The Mason County prosecutor previously said a letter allegedly written by Phillips is “important” and Thursday for the first time it was introduced into court, despite objection from the defense.

Investigators have said in the letter Phillips writes about accidently killing Kate and leaving her in a “peaceful place.”

The day wrapped Thursday with Phillips’ mother, Kimberly, taking the stand testifying about Ariel and her son’s relationship and the day of Kate’s disappearance.

The preliminary examination will continue on Friday.

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