Baby Kate murder trial begins; child’s mother takes the stand

LUDINGTON, Mich. - The trial of a man accused of killing his four-month-old daughter is underway in Mason County.

Sean Phillips is accused of killing Katherine "Baby Kate" Phillips in 2011.  He is currently serving a ten year sentence for unlawful imprisonment for taking the child.

After three days of jury selection, opening statements began Thursday morning.

Prosecutors opened by telling the jury that Phillips didn't want Baby Kate.  Donna Pendergast, from the Attorney General's Office, told jurors that Baby Kate was not "daddy's little girl. In fact, she was his dirty little secret."  She also said the jury that a guilty verdict would say to the defendant, "Sean Michael Phillips, you know what you did, and we do too."

The defense countered that by telling jurors that since Baby Kate has not been found, the prosecution will not be able to prove that Baby Kate actually is dead.

"There's no blood, no physical evidence, no body," David Glancy, Phillips' attorney stated to the jury.

The first witness being called to the stand is Ariel Courtland, Baby Kate's mother.  She testified Sean wanted her to abort Baby Kate, but that she was pro-life and wouldn't do it.  Courtland said he also forced her to consider adoption.

"Neither one of us wanted to go through the pain of running into our child somewhere at the store or it'd just be too hard for us so, we went through Grand Rapids [for adoption services]," Courtland told the prosecutor she backed out.

She said that after Baby Kate was born, she thought her relationship with Sean improved.

Courtland also testified that she had a bad relationship with Sean's parents early on. She said that Phillips' parents never met their granddaughter and that Sean didn't want them to know about her.

Follow @darrenfox17 on Twitter for updates.

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