KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:03 am

The mother of a missing Ludington child has completed ten hours of testimony in the trial of the baby's father.
Sean Phillips is on trial for a charge of unlawful imprisonment,
connected to the disappearance of Katherine Phillips, who was four
months old when she disappeared.

Baby Kate's mother, Ariel Courtland, began testifying Tuesday.

Some of Courtland's exchanges with defense attorney Annette Smedley
took a combative tone. Smedley brought to light several examples where
what Courtland told detectives did not match her testimony at a
preliminary examination last year. Courtland denied lying in her
statements and prior testimony.

"I do not understand why you expect me to get every single detail right when he took my child that day," said Courtland.

Baby Kate disappeared on June 29, 2011. According to Courtland, she
and Sean Phillips were fighting about a scheduled DNA test to prove he
was the child's father. The positive result would also have meant
additional child support payments from Phillips.

Instead of going to the DNA appointment, Courtland says Phillips left
her apartment with Baby Kate in the backseat of his car. She called 911
-- and a recording of the call was played for the jury Wednesday.

"The father of my child took our daughter and I do not know where he went with her," said Courtland to the 911 operator.

Courtland testified at first she wasn't that concerned, but as time
passed she grew anxious, telling prosecutor Paul Spaniola that Phillips
once threatened to leave with their older daughter.

"One day he told me that he was going to take Hailee and flee to Canada and I would never see him again," said Courtland.

Spaniola made an attempt to provide jurors with explanations for
inconsistencies in Courtland's testimony, pointing out she's done more
than 20 interviews with police.

"It is hard to remember every single detail, every interview, every time span, every this and every that," said Courtland.

Phillips was eventually found on the same day Baby Kate disappeared.
Her clothes were found in his pocket, but Kate has never been found.

Courtland says she visited Phillips multiple times at the Mason
County jail. Hopeful Phillips would reveal where their child is.

"He would look at me and see how much pain I am in and see how much I
just want Kate," said Courtland. "I support him if he just tells me
what happened."

Court was delayed by one hour this morning because a court spectator
Tuesday posted a cell phone picture of the jury on a Facebook page. When
media cover trial they are prohibited from taking jurors' pictures or
releasing their names until a trial has ended.

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/article/209657/14/Trial-fireworks-between-Baby-Kates-mom-attorney-?odyssey=tab|topnews|bc|large
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:07 am

'Baby Kate' live coverage: Judge bans photography after jury photos appear on Facebook

Published: Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 12:55 PM Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012, 3:07 PM

LUDINGTON, MI – The court day at the trial of Sean Michael Phillips for his baby Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips’ disappearance began Wednesday with a flap over Facebook.
The rest of the morning was taken up with continued testimony by Ariel Courtland, 20-year-old mother of the missing “Baby Kate.”
Phillips, 22, of Victory Township, is charged with unlawful imprisonment, a
15-year felony. The baby has never been seen since June 29, 2011, when
she was 4 ½ months old.

Numerous searches of the Mason County
area haven't turned up a body or any evidence that would indicate she
was given away, authorities said.
To convict, Spaniola must prove Phillips "knowingly restrained" the baby without authorization and kept her location secret.


Ariel Courtland testifies Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at the Ludington trial of
Sean Michael Phillips for unlawful imprisonment of their infant
daughter, Katherine Shelby-Elizabeth Phillips, 'Baby Kate.' Here she
fondly recalls the baby learning to crawl to try to get her pacifier.


After pictures of the jury appeared publicly on someone’s Facebook
page Tuesday – a big no-no in court – Mason County 51st Circuit Judge
Richard I. Cooper on Wednesday morning banned spectators from carrying
cell phones or other electronic devices capable of taking pictures.

Cooper said a member of the audience, not the news media, took the pictures
with a cell phone and posted them. The judge called it “very irresponsible.”

One female member of the 14-member panel of jurors
and alternates asked to be excused as a result. Cooper decided against
excusing her at this time, preferring to wait until time for
deliberations in case both alternates are needed then to make up a
12-member jury.

Defense attorney Annette Smedley, after conferring with Phillips, declined to ask for a mistrial.
After some confusion, the judge clarified that his photography ban didn't apply to the news media.

On the witness stand, Courtland continued her testimony that began Tuesday.

Much of her time on the stand Wednesday covered the same ground as the first day.

Smedley, continuing her cross-examination of Courtland, continued to focus on
differences between Courtland’s earlier statements to police and her
later testimony.

For example, Courtland at first told police she
went into her apartment to find her house keys when Phillips drove away
with the baby. Later she said it was to get Kate’s stroller.

Under redirect examination later by Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola,
Courtland said she hadn’t lied to police, but “it’s hard to remember
every detail.” At the time, she said, she was focused on getting Kate
back, not details like her house keys.

She explained her numerous
visits and phone calls with Phillips since his arrest by saying she
hoped he would help her by telling her something about what happened to
Kate.

Before the baby disappeared, Courtland said, “I loved him. … I don’t love Sean like that anymore.”

Courtland said she and Phillips had been arguing about what to do with the baby
up to and on June 29. She said Phillips wanted to give her up for
adoption, while Courtland refused to do that.

The disappearance
came about an hour after Phillips had stopped at a Ludington hospital to
take a paternity DNA test. Courtland said she had expected Phillips to
take her and the baby to the hospital for the same test.

Minutes earlier, Phillips had taken them by the hospital but not stopped.
Instead he stopped at the nearby Department of Human Services office and
tried again to persuade Courtland to give up Kate for adoption, then
brought them back to Courtland’s apartment.

Courtland testified Wednesday that she “forcefully … at least three times” asked Phillips to
drop her off at the hospital after the DHS stop, but he refused.

She also explained her repeated texts to Phillips about adopting Kate out
as attempts to go along with what Phillips wanted for fear of what he
might do. She said she feared he might disappear with their 4-year-old
daughter, as Courtland said he once threatened.

Courtland on Tuesday acknowledged that she had earlier considered giving up Kate for
adoption and even signed papers to do so, but never carried it out.
Court resumes at 1:30 p.m.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/04/baby_kate_live_coverage_ariel.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:47 am

A man says the father of a missing Ludington child once bragged about being able to hide a body.
The man was one of the witnesses called to testify Thursday against
Sean Phillips, who is on trial in Ludington on a charge of unlawful
imprisonment.

Prosecutors say Phillips took his then-four-month-old daughter,
Katherine Phillips, from the girl's mother on June 29, 2011. Baby Kate
has not been seen since.

One of the witnesses was a neighbor, who told the jury she heard Sean
Phillips and the child's mother, Ariel Courtland, arguing that day.

Another witness, an investigator from the Department of Human
Services' child protective services department, testified Courtland came
to her that day looking for her child.

"She was rushed and she was agitated," said investigator Anna
Appledorn, who told the jury Courtland asked if Phillips had dropped
their daughter off with DHS workers. "Then she asked again, 'Do you have
her?' I said no, and she got up and left."

Prosecutors also called family and friends of Phillips and Courtland
to the witness stand. One was Courtland's mother April Lang, who
described her daughter's reaction when police confirmed they had found
Phillips -- but not Baby Kate.

"She went outside and started throwing up," said Lang.

Phillips' attorney Annette Smedley questioned Lang about statements
she made to investigators, like one where she said the first time she
saw Courtland cry happened after a mug shot of Phillips appeared on
line.

"You thought it was odd that she would cry for Sean but not for Kate -- is that correct?" asked Smedley.

"Correct," answered Lang.

Lang's housemate, Dan Ruba, was also called to testify. Ruba spent
social time with Phillips and Courtland. He told jurors that Phillips
was different after returning from National Guard basic training.

"[He was] doing things that did not make sense," said Ruba.

Ruba testified he and Phillips were drinking beer one night when the
baby's father made a "strange" statement. "He told me and another friend
that he could hide a body and that nobody could find it," Ruba said.

Ruba said Phillips made that statement in May -- one month before Baby Kate disappeared.

Late Thursday afternoon, the jury was shown the clothes Baby Kate was
wearing the day she disappeared. A Ludington Police officer testified
the clothing was found balled up in the pocket of shorts Phillips was
wearing when he was arrested.

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/regional/209810/5/Friend-Phillips-bragged-about-ability-to-hide-body
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by TomTerrific0420 on Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:25 pm

The fourth day of testimony in the trial of the father of a missing
Ludington child began with the child's mother becoming emotional and
leaving the courtroom, and ended with prosecutors showing a note found
in the father's jail clothing raising the possibility the baby was still
alive.
Sean Phillips is on trial for a charge of unlawful imprisonment,
connected to the disappearance of Katherine Phillips, who was four
months old when she disappeared on June 29, 2011.

Late Friday afternoon, prosecutors introduced a note found by a Mason
County corrections officer in Sean Phillips' laundry days after he was
arrested for Baby Kate's disappearance. The note said:

"I gave her to a guy along with a list of families that are adopting
(addresses.) He was to take her to one and they would report that the
baby was left on their doorstep, but that they would try to keep it."

The corrections officer, John Long, told jurors Phillips asked to
retrieve something from the laundry. Instead, Long checked the Phillips'
laundry himself and found the note. Long testified he read the first
few lines of the note, then refolded it and turned it over to
detectives.

Testimony ended after Long's testimony.

Early Friday, prosecutor Paul Spaniola asked to recall Baby Kate's
mother, Ariel Courtland, to to the witness stand. Spaniola wanted
Courtland to confirm clothes found in Phillips' shorts pocked the day of
his arrest belonged to Baby Kate.

Defense attorney Annette Smedley objected to Courtland's return to
the court. "To call her again because maybe something was not covered I
would say that, that is not allowed," argued Smedley.

Circuit Court Judge Richard Cooper overruled Smedley's objection,
saying Courtland could confirm to jurors that the clothing was worn by
Baby Kate when she disappeared.

Courtland briefly looked at the clothing, then got up from the stand,
shoved the clothes back into a paper bag Spaniola was holding, then
stormed out of the courtroom.

Smedley objected again, arguing what had happened was "staged
courtroom theater." The judge sent jurors out of the courtroom while
Spaniola and Smedley argued over whether there should be a mistrial.

Smedley pointed out Courtland calmly handled the clothing during a
preliminary examination last year. "She did not have a jury to play to
either," said Smedley. "He brings her back today. She looks at them and
she goes out of the courtroom. It was planned for the jury and the media
and I think that was wrong. And I would ask for a mistrial... at this
point."

Outside of the jury's presence, Spaniola told the judge he took
offense to the defense's suggestion that Courtland's outburst was
staged. The trial resumed when Phillips himself said he wanted it to go
on.

Courtland returned to the stand and spoke about Baby Kate's outfit.
"I put them on her the morning that she went missing," she said, "the
last thing I saw her in."

Judge Cooper has set aside all of next week for the remaining witness testimony, closing arguments and jury deliberation

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/article/209917/14/Phillips-note-revealed-I-gave-her-to-a-guy?odyssey=tab|topnews|bc|large
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:32 am

Sean Phillips denied fathering, taking Baby Kate in police video played in court


Monday, April 23, 2012, 6:47 PM

LUDINGTON, MI -- Sean Michael Phillips, in a video-recorded police
interview the evening of June 29, 2011, had to be asked repeatedly if he
knew where the missing Baby Kate was before he gave a direct answer.

Tom Posma, Mason County Sheriff's detective sergeant and the case's lead
investigator, kept asking Phillips if he knew where she was.

Phillips, his voice low and a near-monotone, kept returning instead to his
arguments with the baby's mother, Ariel Courtland, and what he
considered Courtand's frustrating behavior.

Eventually Phillips said, "I'm guessing she just has her with a friend or someone she knows."
Finally he answered, flatly, "No" -- he didn't know where the baby, Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips, was.

At another point, Phillips said Courtland carried the baby back into
her apartment building before he drove off, which contradicted
Courtland's report to police starting with a 911 call she placed at 1:14
p.m. She said Phillips drove off with the baby when she went inside the
building to get her stroller to walk her to the nearby hospital for a
DNA swab to determine if Phillips was the father.

The roughly hour-long interview was played in court Monday afternoon in the sixth
day of Phillips' trial. The interrogation was conducted at the Mason
County Sheriff's Office in an interview room.
Phillips, 22, of Mason County’s Victory Township, is charged with
unlawful imprisonment, a 15-year felony, in the disappearance of his 4
1/2-month-old daughter, Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips, shortly
after 1 p.m. June 29. Authorities believe Phillips took the baby from
Courtland. She has never been found.

In the interview, Phillips insisted Courtland -- not he -- was pushing for adopting the baby out,
with him just going along with her.

Posma did most of the talking. Phillips mostly listened as Posma entreated him to say where the infant was.

Phillips insisted Courtland had the baby last. Most of his answers, in a low
monotone, had more to do with his annoyance at Courtland's behavior than
with Posma’s questions about what happened that day with Katherine.
Phillips in the interview said he doubted the baby was his and he seemed uninterested in her.

Early in the interview, asked by Posma if he had any other children besides
his and Courtland's then-3-year-old first daughter, Haley, Phillips
replied: "Not that I know of."

He stuck to his story – sometimes confusingly told as he kept recurring to arguments with
Courtland and what he considered her bad behavior – that Kate’s mother
had the baby the last he knew.

Phillips said Courtland took the baby from his car into her Ludington apartment complex and he drove away.

But when police found him nearly three hours later at his parents’
Scottville-area home, where he lived, he had Kate’s clothes that
Courtland said she had last seen her wearing stuffed in a cargo pocket
of his khaki shorts. The baby’s car seat and diaper bag, which also
contained Courtland’s wallet with her identification and credit cards,
were in the trunk of Phillips' car.

Posma was the main witness Monday afternoon, with the video of the interview the centerpiece of his testimony.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/04/sean_phillips_denied_fathering.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:18 pm

Follow Tweets from a reporter inside the courtroom:

https://twitter.com/#!/JohnSHausman
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:19 pm

Baby Kate live coverage: Prosecutor's final witness taking the stand today
Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 9:30 AM
By John S. Hausman

LUDINGTON, MI -- This is Wednesday, April 25, live coverage through Twitter of the trial of Sean Michael Phillips, accused of abducting his infant daughter, Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips.

You don't need a Twitter account to read it here on MLive. Just go to the bottom of this post and watch the Twitter feed live.

Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola was expected to wrap up his evidence presentation today with a final police witness. Defense attorney Annette Smedley of Muskegon's case will follow.

The high point of Tuesday in court was testimony by the defendant's parents, Larry and Kimberly Phillips. Both testified that Sean, who lived with them, repeatedly denied to them that he was Baby Kate's father.

Authorities believe Phillips abducted Baby Kate on June 29, 2011, when she was 4 1/2 months old. The infant has not been seen since that day.

Phillips, of Mason County's Victory Township, is charged with unlawful imprisonment.

That's a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Numerous searches of the Mason County area haven't turned up a body or any evidence that would indicate she was given away, authorities said.

Authorities have repeatedly said Courtland is not a suspect and that she has always cooperated with investigators in an effort to locate her daughter.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/04/baby_kate_live_coverage_prosec.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:07 pm

Prosecution rests in Baby Kate case
Sean Phillips accused of unlawful imprisonment

Updated: Thursday, 26 Apr 2012, 10:22 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 26 Apr 2012, 5:25 AM EDT

By Leon Hendrix

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) - The prosecution rested its case against Sean Phillips after brief testimony from an FBI agent who talked with a couple who was found on an adoptive parents website.

Sean Phillips' defense attorney objected to the testimony from FBI agent Brett Leatherman, who was added to the witness list late Wednesday, claiming his testimony would be hearsay.

Leatherman was called by prosecutors after he made contact with a couple on an adoptive family website searched on Ariel Courtland's computer.

Phillips and Courtland are the parents of Katherine, the 4-month-old not seen since June 29, 2011. Phillips, 22, is on trial, facing 15 years in prison for her unlawful imprisonment.

Leatherman said the woman had not been contacted by either Phillips or Courtland. Defense attorney Annette Smedley objected to the "hearsay," and Judge Richard Cooper excused the jury from the courtroom for a decision to be made.

Cooper ruled Leatherman's testimony is valid, and the jury returned.

The woman did not recognize pictures of Phillips, Courtland or Baby Kate, and Leatherman said FBI agents "found absolutely nothing to indicate that there was a child" at their Birmingham, Michigan home.

The couple, he said, had been trying to adopt and used the website parentprofiles.com -- a site mentioned in a note found inside Phillips' pants pockets at the Mason County jail days after he was arrested.

On cross-examination, Smedley asked if Leatherman checked to see if there was an infant with the man who was in Germany when the FBI went to the Birmingham home. Leatherman said he did not check flights or investigae whether or not a child was with a man while traveling.

Leatherman was excused, and the prosecution rested their case.

http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/nw_mich/sean-phillips-trial-042612
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:36 pm

Phillips' trial: Baby Kate case in hands of the jury

LDN Staff - Thursday, April 26, 2012

Excerpt:

he decision of Sean Phillips’ guilt or innocence is now in the hands of the 12-person Mason County jury.

The nine-day trial did not provide the whereabouts of his infant daughter baby Kate, who was reported missing June 29.

There were, however, several scenarios discussed.

In the end, the question is whether Sean both:

1. knowingly restrained Katherine Phillips (restricting her liberty)

2. secretly confining Katherine (keeping her or her location secret)

Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, whose job was to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, wrapped up Thursday evening by asking the jury to find Sean guilty of unlawful imprisonment of Kate, saying the evidence presents a picture that proves that guilt.

Circuit Court Judge Richard I. Cooper gave the jury its instructions before deliberations began.

The jury talked for just more than an hour and returned to say they would break for the night and begin again at 8 a.m. Friday.

More: http://www.ludingtondailynews.com/news/65084-phillips-trial-case-in-hands-of-the-jury?newsgroup_id=
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:55 pm

Baby Kate verdict: Sean Phillips guilty

Published: Friday, April 27, 2012, 12:12 PM
Updated: Friday, April 27, 2012, 12:33 PM
By John S. Hausman | jhausman@mlive.com

LUDINGTON, MI -- Jurors in the Baby Kate trial have found Sean Michael Phillips guilty of unlawful imprisonment.

Phillips, 22, of Mason County's Victory Township was charged with the 15-year felony in the disappearance of his 4 1/2-month-old daughter, Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips.

Authorities said he abducted the infant shortly after 1 p.m. June 29, 2011, from her mother, Ariel Courtland, outside Courtland's apartment.

A jury of eight men and four women began deliberating around 6 p.m. Thursday, then went home around 7:45 p.m. Around 7 p.m., they asked and were allowed to examine some of the evidence, including the video of Phillips' June 29 interview with a police detective and the transcript of Courtland's separate police interview the same day.

They resumed deliberations at 8 a.m. today.

An MLive.com/Muskegon Chronicle reporter and photographer are in the courtroom. A more detailed story will follow.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/04/baby_kate_verdict_sean_phillip.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:17 pm

Live coverage of Sean Phillips' sentencing via @JohnSHausman on twitter:

https://twitter.com/#!/JohnSHausman
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:16 pm

Baby Kate sentencing: Sean Phillips gets 10 to 15 years in prison

Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 3:50 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 3:50 PM

LUDINGTON, MI -- Sean Michael Phillips has been sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison for the unlawful imprisonment of his infant daughter Baby Kate.

It's the maximum possible by law and far above the state sentencing guidelines.

Mason County 51st Circuit Judge Richard I. Cooper pronounced that sentence Tuesday afternoon in Ludington.

A Mason County jury April 27 found Phillips, 22, of Victory Township guilty of unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips, then 4 1/2 months old, on June 29, 2011.

A more detailed story will follow.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/06/baby_kate_sentencing_sean_phil.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Tue Jun 05, 2012 9:37 pm

Baby Kate case now a homicide investigation, say police, prosecutors in Ludington

Published: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 4:51 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 05, 2012, 5:16 PM

LUDINGTON, MI -- The Baby Kate investigation is transitioning to a homicide case, police and prosecutors said after Sean Michael Phillips, the missing baby’s father, got the longest possible sentence for unlawful imprisonment allowed by law: 10 to 15 years in prison.

“Is she possibly dead? She possibly is,” Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola said after Tuesday afternoon’s sentencing.

Area police officials were more blunt.

In a joint written statement, Ludington Police Chief Mark A. Barnett, Mason County Sheriff Jeff Fiers and First Lt. Kevin Leavitt of the Michigan State Police Hart Post predicted that “additional charges” against Phillips will be issued.

Spaniola in a press conference declined to predict how long that might take, if it ever happens.

"Investigators are convinced that one individual, Sean Michael Phillips, knows the location of Katherine's body," the police statement said.

The police statement rebutted other theories that have been presented about what happened to Baby Kate – Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips, who disappeared June 29, 2011, at the age of 4 ½ months and has not been seen since.

“Speculation during the first 10 months of the investigation that ‘Baby Kate’ was given to someone else is not supported by the evidence,” the police statement said.

“Previous speculation as to the involvement of the mother, Ariel Courtland, in the disappearance of Katherine Phillips is also not supported by the evidence,” the police said. “Extensive investigation into Ms. Courtland has been conducted by multiple law enforcement agencies. It has been concluded by investigators, and through judicial proceedings, that she did not have the time, means, or motive necessary, or that she has any knowledge of Baby Kate’s whereabouts.”

Spaniola said there have been no new developments in the search for Baby Kate since Phillips’ jury conviction April 27.

He did say tiny seeds that were found in Phillips’ tennis shoes have been germinated in hopes of determining what plants they are, thereby possibly narrowing down the search areas for the baby’s remains, if she is dead.

At the sentencing, Mason County 51st Circuit Judge Richard I. Cooper radically exceeded state sentencing guidelines by imposing the 10-year minimum. State guidelines calculated by probation agents called for a minimum of no more than about three years in prison.

The 15-year maximum is set by law. A prison parole board will eventually decide whether Phillips serves 10 years, 15 or something in between, assuming his conviction and sentencing survive his appeals.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/06/baby_kate_case_now_a_homicide.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by angelm07 on Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:52 am

9/11/2012: BREAKING: Missing Baby Kate Case

Update: LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) - A letter apparently written by the father of presumed dead Baby Kate tells how the little girl died. Katherine Phillips -- known as Baby Kate to many -- was 4 mo nths old when she went missing on July 29, 2011.

Her father Sean Phillips was convicted of unlawful imprisonment in connection to her disappearance in April 2012. In June, he was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison. The same day Phillips was sentenced, police announced they would begin to treat the case as a homicide investigation.

On Sept. 11, Target 8 obtained a letter from a source that was apparently written by Phillips. It explains how he believes Baby Kate died, what he did with her body -- and gives a possible explanation to why he and Baby Kate's mother Ariel Courtland are getting married.

Courtland filed for a marriage license on Sept. 10.

In the letter, for the first time, is an admission from Phillips that Baby Kate is dead.

Read: The full letter from Sean Phillips to Ariel Courtland (pdf): http://woodtv.triton.net/news/sean-phillips-letter-watermark-091112.pdf

On jail-issued lined paper and in an envelope postmarked July 16 is a letter believed to be scrawled by the man at the middle of the search for Baby Kate.

The letter is unsigned, but does have Sean Phillips' name and prison ID number on the front of the envelope.

The print is small and fills the paper from edge to edge. It has no greeting to apparent intended recipient Ariel Courtland."If this is what you want, OK," starts the letter.

Then it gives a five-page explanation of what happened the day Baby Kate went missing.

The letter says it was a series of mistakes. First, Phillips drove off with the baby. But he says he had no idea Courtland had left Kate in her car seat in his car.

"Heard the door shut, saw you walk off. Your hands in front of you, not at your sides. Like you were holding Kate. I drove away," the letter reads.

Then a cell phone started to ring over and over again as he drove, the note says. But Phillips couldn't silence the phone because he couldn't reach it.

He was frustrated, the letter says, because he thought Courtland was trying to control him by leaving the car seat in the car so he would have to bring it back to her. The letter says he had no idea Baby Kate was still in that seat and that he planned to ditch the car seat in frustration.

"(I) was just going to throw it out onto that area between Burger King. I pulled but it was jammed between the seats.

That just made it worse," the letter reads. "I grabbed it at the top and ripped it out as hard as I could. She was thrown from it. I didn't know. I'm so sorry. Held her for a long time. Seemed like forever. Maybe an hour, maybe a minute."

"I've never cried that hard. Seemed like my throat was closing ... I was in shock."

The letter goes on to detail what Phillips did once he realized what had happened.

"I never even tried to help her. Never even thought to. Just sat there. Holding her. I don't think anything could have been done. Still I used to hate myself for not trying."

Then he drove and drove, the letter says, not even knowing where he was headed.

Then he stopped and got out of the car.

"For the first time I could think some. Thought about Kate. Her smile. The way she looks around. Everything. I cried until I somehow couldn't anymore. She was set in a peaceful place. I was walking and lost. ... For the first time I realized I had left her. I wanted to die."

But, he said, leaving the baby was never deliberate.

"It wasn't dumping a body," the letter reads. "Wasn't like that at all. I want her buried too. I don't know where she was left. No, it's not some f------ swamp or lake."

That seems to be an allusion to to evidence presented at his April trial regarding the plant life on Phillips' shoes.

After Phillips got home, he learned the police were involved. That same day, he was in police custody.

"Everything just happened, and I never had a chance to do the right thing," the letter reads.

A mention of marriage comes toward the end of the letter.

"Things spouses tell each other in confidence can't be made to testify. But we aren't married yet in the eye of the government," it reads.

The letter ends abruptly: "Out of time for mail. Destroy this. We'll talk."

Police say they know about the letter, but won't comment further.

SOURCE: http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/target_8/Dads-letter-Baby-Kate-is-dead


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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:41 pm

Baby Kate's mom and dad likely won't be allowed to meet after marriage

Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 12:30 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 12:38 PM
By John S. Hausman

IONIA, MI – Baby Kate’s mother, Ariel Courtland, probably won’t be allowed to visit Sean Phillips in prison even after they marry, although that’s the reason she’s reportedly been giving for their planned marriage.

After Courtland gets a valid marriage license, the warden of the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia, where Phillips is lodged, is required to allow the marriage, according to John Cordell, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections.

But that doesn’t give Courtland a right to visit Phillips, Cordell said. In fact, he said, the warden “likely will” continue to forbid visits between the two.

“Her visiting application was restricted by the warden on the grounds of order and security and the likelihood that any visitation by this woman would not assist in the positive rehabilitation of the prisoner,” Cordell said Wednesday.

Phillips is serving a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison after a jury convicted him of unlawfully imprisoning the couple’s then 4 ½-month-old baby, Katherine Phillips. The baby disappeared June 29, 2011, after Phillips drove away from Courtland’s Ludington home with Baby Kate in his car. The child has never been found.

Cordell said Courtland being a victim in the Baby Kate case has nothing to do with the warden’s refusal to let her visit Phillips. Victims are allowed to visit prisoners all the time, he said.

“But people who may assault the prisoner, or the prisoner may assault them, or we think there may be some emergent issues as a result of the meeting, visitation may be denied because of good order and security,” Cordell said. “We need to maintain safety in our visiting room.

“Beyond that, we do take the rehabiltation into account,” Cordell said. “Being married or having a license issued by the state of Michigan isn’t going to change those conditions.”

Cordell said the prison warden can’t forbid a marriage between an inmate and an outsider, but wardens can determine the schedule and conditions. Typically marriages take place in a prison’s visiting room and are conducted by the prison chaplain, sometimes with outside witnesses allowed, Cordell said.

The Ionia County Clerk's office confirmed Tuesday that Courtland applied on Monday for a license to marry Phillips. The license will be issued Thursday and the couple then has 30 days in which to marry.

On another issue, Cordell said the corrections department has no information on whether a letter reported by news media appearing to be from Phillips, in which Phillips apparently confessed to killing Baby Kate, actually was from the inmate.

“We can’t and we don’t on a regular basis check outgoing mail,” Cordell said.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/09/baby_kates_mom_and_dad_likely.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:28 pm

Report: Baby Kate's parents won't be getting married after all

Posted by gotcha
Friday, September 14, 2012 at 7:24 PM

LUDINGTON, MI -- Ariel Courtland, mother of the long-missing "Baby Kate" Katherine Phillips, has decided to cancel her plans to marry Sean Phillips, the baby's imprisoned father, WOOD TV-8 reported Friday.

The Grand Rapids TV station reported that Courtland said she decided it "wasn't the right thing to do."

READ MORE: http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/09/report_baby_kates_mom_cancels.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by mom_in_il on Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:47 pm

'I'm so sorry... I never even tried to help her': Guilt-ridden father admits killing baby girl in fit of rage in emotional prison letter to her mother

*Sean Phillips wrote shocking five-page letter from prison two months ago admitting to causing death of Baby Kate but claims it was an accident
*Phillips serving 10-15 years for abducting the infant
*Ariel Courtland filed paperwork to marry her baby's father and abductor
*Claims marriage is not for love but to extract information from him about her missing child's whereabouts
*Baby Kate disappeared on July 29, 2011

By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 09:10 EST, 12 September 2012
UPDATED: 13:03 EST, 12 September 2012

A guilt-ridden father has penned an explosive letter from prison in which he confesses to killing his four-month-old daughter in a fit of rage and then leaving her body in the middle of nowhere.

Michigan 22-year-old Sean Phillips is serving 10-15 years for abducting his daughter Kate, who has been missing for more than a year, and is the lead suspect in her presumed death.

But a five-page handwritten letter, written two months ago and published for the first time today, blows the mysterious case open as Phillips admits to killing his baby and reveals what he did with her body, though claims it was all a terrible accident.

The news comes a day after Kate's mother, Ariel Courtland, filed paperwork to marry her former lover -- however, she claims the marriage is not for love but to extract more information from him about the infant's whereabouts.

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

Phillips' shocking revelations, obtained by WOOD TV, describe a series of mistakes that led to the child's death.

In a fit of juvenile rage, Phillips explains how he ripped the child's car seat from the vehicle without realising she was sitting in it, fatally injuring Baby Kate as she is thrown to the ground.

The 22-year-old goes on to confess that he may have been able to save Baby Kate's life by rushing her to a hospital but he did nothing. Later, he says he left her body in 'a peaceful place.'

Written on jail-issued paper, in crammed handwriting, the letter to Courtland starts with 'if this is what you want, OK' then goes on to explain how he drove off with Kate in the back seat of their car, not realising she was there.

'Heard the door shut, saw you walk off,' the letter reads. 'Your hands in front of you, not at your sides. Like you were holding Kate. I drove away.'

He then explains how a mobile phone started ringing but he couldn't reach it and became frustrated.

Read More: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2202125/Baby-Kate-Phillips-A-guilt-ridden-fathers-explosive-prison-confession-Murder-suspect-admits-killing-baby-girl-fit-rage-leaving-body-peaceful-place-unbelievable-letter-penned-bars.html#ixzz26XfBvOPE
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:58 am

Baby Kate case moves to trial

December 29, 2012 at 11:00 AM
The sad tale of the disappearance of “Baby Kate” took several strange turns in 2012 and it may not be over yet.
The most significant part of the story was the trial, conviction and sentencing of the missing baby’s father, Sean Michael Phillips.
A Mason County jury April 27 found Phillips, now 23, of Victory Township, guilty of unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of his daughter, Katherine Shelbie-Elizabeth Phillips, then 4 1/2 months old, on June 29, 2011.
On June 5, he got the longest sentence possible:
10 to 15 years in state prison. Mason County 51st Circuit Judge Richard
I. Cooper radically exceeded state sentencing guidelines by imposing
the 10-year minimum. Guidelines calculated by state probation agents
called for a minimum of no more than about three years in prison, but
Cooper tripled that.
Cooper imposed that sentence because, he
said, the case is a “worst case scenario” in which an infant was still
missing after nearly a year, with circumstantial evidence indicating the
possibility she is dead, and still no word from Phillips about her
whereabouts.
The case then transitioned to a homicide case, police
and prosecutors said immediately after Phillips was sentenced. As of
late December, however, no homicide charges had been filed.
Months after Phillips went to prison, the story got odder.






Baby Kate
COURTESY PHOTO






In September the baby’s mother, Ariel Courtland, who had testified
against Phillips at his trial, took out a license to marry the
imprisoned Phillips. Phillips’ public defender, Annette Smedley of
Muskegon, confirmed that the two planned to marry. But a few days later
Courtland decided to cancel the wedding.



At about the same time, a letter surfaced publicly that appeared to
have been written by Phillips to Courtland from prison, admitting that
he killed the baby but claiming it was an accident. Mason County
Prosecutor Paul Spaniola said circumstantial evidence indicated the letter was genuine but said it was only one part of the homicide investigation.
Then, on Oct. 2, Courtland, Smedley, Courtland’s father and Phillips’ mother appeared on the Dr. Phil national TV show to discuss the case.

As the year neared its end, Phillips was lodged at a close-security facility at the Michigan Reformatory in Ionia. His earliest "out" date is June 29, 2021.
What's next in 2013: At last report, the homicide investigation continued. A murder charge is possible, but no decision had been made on that.
http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/12/muskegons_top_stories_of_2012_1.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Sat Mar 16, 2013 12:40 am

Baby Kate's dad appealing conviction

Updated: Friday, 15 Mar 2013, 6:53 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 15 Mar 2013, 11:40 AM EDT

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) - The father of missing baby Katherine
Phillips is appealing the conviction and sentence that sent him to
prison for at least 10 years.

In a brief filed with the Michigan Court of Appeals, through his attorney
Valerie Newman, Phillips claims that the trial court in Ludington erred
during the judge's instructions to the jury, unfairly departed from
sentencing guidelines, and that prosecutors failed to prove part of
their case against him.

--- Read the appeal (pdf) ----

Phillips was convicted of unlawful imprisonment following 10 days of testimony during the trial at the Mason County Courthouse.

After the sentencing in June 2012, police declared Sean Phillips a suspect
in the murder of his infant daughter who became known as Baby Kate. She
disappeared in June 2011. The infant or her remains have not been found
and murder charges have not yet been levied against Phillips.


In a 28-page filing, Newman highlights portions of the unlawful imprisonment statute that state the victim of said crime must by "restrained" and "secretly confined."

She cites a portion of a law that says "'Restrain' means to forcibly restrict a persons movements..."

"There is no record evidence to support that Kate's movements were forcibly
restricted," Newman wrote in the filing. "The record is completely
devoid of any evidence of force."


"The conviction for unlawful imprisonment was not supported by the evidence produced at trial and must be vacated."

Newman also took issue with what the judge said to the jury in response to a
question about the elements of the unlawful imprisonment charge.


"During jury deliberations the jury asked 'is secret confinement from the
People of the State of Michigan or from Ariel Courtland or anyone
else?'...Over Defense Counsel's objection the court instructed the jury
that the answer is either Ariel or the State."


"It was inaccurate because the statute does not define from whom the person must be secretly confined."

The length of Phillips' sentence was also disputed.

During the sentencing hearing, Judge Richard Cooper decided to go above the
guidelines and called the case "exceptional" because of the victim's
young age, vulnerability, and the fact that Baby Kate was still missing.


Newman claims the "sentencing guidelines for Mr. Phillips had been scored out
at a range of 19-38 months" and that the factors the judge said made the
case "exceptional" had already been considered to come up with that score.


" If this Court lets a trial judge depart from the guidelines by simply
stating on the record the magic litany of words that he or she finds the
guidelines scoring inadequate without undergoing the analysis dictated
by Young (People v Young is a Michigan Court of Appeals Case from 2007),
then the Legislature’s intent in enacting the guidelines is defeated
and the legislative scheme will only serve to mask the imposition of subjective, arbitrary, and disparate sentences that it was meant to prevent."


Newman continued to say that even if the factors the judge mentioned are
considered, that he still went too far over the guidelines in sentencing
Phillips.


"...this case does not support a minimum term that is more than double the high
end of the applicable guidelines range," Newman wrote. "Resentencing is
required."


Late last year, the case was thrust into the limelight again after
Katherine's mother, Ariel Courtland, took out a marriage license and
planned to marry Phillips at an Ionia prison. Those plans were canceled after word about the marriage license went public.


Shortly thereafter, 24 Hour News 8 obtained a letter
that investigators believe was written by Sean Phillips to Ariel
Courtland. The letter stated Phillips accidentally killed the infant in
frustration and that he left her somewhere. It does not indicate where
she was left.


Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola has not yet filed a response to the appeal and could not
immediately be reached for comment.

A message was left for Courtland seeking comment Friday morning.

Investigators said the case remains under investigation.

http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/nw_mich/baby-kate-dad-appealing-conviction
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:55 am

Botanical search goal: Find Baby Kate

Police seek team members to help

Updated: Tuesday, 02 Apr 2013, 7:30 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 02 Apr 2013, 12:28 PM EDT


  • By Leon Hendrix
LUDINGTON,
Mich. (WOOD) - Ludington police are seeking the help of those with
knowledge in plant identification for a two-day search for missing Baby Kate.

Katherine Phillips
was 4 months old when she went missing in June 2011. Though authorities
said in April 2012 they are investigating her disappearance as a
homicide, her remains have never been found.
"Not knowing where
she's at is the hardest thing for me to deal with," said Kate's maternal
grandmother April Lange. "Knowing that she's out there somewhere and
maybe buried somewhere little or not even... Just laying on the ground
somewhere. That's horrible to think about."
Lange said knowing where Kate is and having the opportunity to bury her would help bring the family closure.

Her father Sean Phillips is serving a 10-year minimum prison sentence after he was convicted last year of unlawful imprisonment connected to her disappearance, which he is appealing. After he was sentenced, investigators declared Phillips a suspect in Kate's murder.
The
search is planned around the two-year anniversary of the infant's
disappearance on Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29, 24 Hour News 8
has learned. It will focus on botanical evidence found on Phillips' shoes that investigators hope will lead them to where he left his daughter.

Detectives
will seek the help of qualified participants and are planning an
application process to prepare the team. Details on that process will be
released at a press conference scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday at the
Ludington City Council Chambers.

Last year, prosecutors said they believe Phillips authored a letter to Baby Kate's mother Ariel Courtland in which he admitted that he killed the infant,
but claimed it was an accident. The letter, obtained by 24 Hour News 8,
didn't provide information about where Baby Kate's body was left.

"I
drove, not to anywhere or for any reason. Just drove. A few things I
suddenly realized I was driving, but couldn't remember how I came to be
or where I was," the letter reads in part. "She was set in a peaceful
place. I was walking and lost."
== Read: The full letter from Sean Phillips to Ariel Courtland ==
Investigators have elicited the help of several experts including some from Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and the Chicago Field Museum.

Dr.
Frank Telewski, a botany professor at Michigan State University,
testified at Phillips' trial last year and discussed plant matter found
on shoes that were taken as evidence from Phillips' home.

Telewski
was unable to specify the location the plant matter came from but at
trial said the shoes had likely been in a wet area.

Tuesday, Telewski named one of the plants investigators have identified.

"We
did attempt to germinate some of the seeds we found on the shoes last
year, but the seeds did not germinate. Fortunately, we were able to get a
positive identification of the seeds/fruit thanks to the expertise of a
botanist over at the University of Michigan," Telewski said in an
email. "The Carex (common name is sedge, a grass-like plant of moist areas) fruit were identified..."

Authorities will also focus on Sphagnum plants, a type of moss that grows in wet areas.
Police plan to release specifics on what they are looking for Wednesday.
http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/nw_mich/baby-kate-case-news-conference-on-april-3
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:32 am

I read his letter to Baby Kate's mother and I don't understand why he has not been charged with her murder.

Is it because he's in prison and they feel they can take their time?

Is he going to get by with her murder?

Why?
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Wed May 29, 2013 7:25 pm

More witnesses interviewed in Baby Kate case

10:58 AM, May 29, 2013



Katherine Phillips (Courtesy: Michigan State Police

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WZZM) - The Mason County Prosecutor interviewed several witnesses Tuesday in relation to the case of a
missing infant.

Katherine Phillips, Baby Kate, disappeared on June 29, 2011. Her biological father, Sean Phillips, was convicted of unlawful imprisonment of Baby Kate in April of 2012 and is serving 10-15 years in prison for that crime. He admits to being the last person to see Baby Kate, who was four months old at the time.

Investigators moved the case to an active homicide investigation after the conviction. Baby Kate's body has not been located.

County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola released information Wednesday that several witnesses were interviewed under oath Tuesday regarding the case. The identity of the witnesses and the content of the interviews is not available due to laws protecting the rights of the witnesses and the ongoing investigation.

Investigators are planning searches on June 28-29 for plants that may help in finding Baby Kate.


http://www.wzzm13.com/news/article/258040/2/More-witnesses-interviewed-in-Baby-Kate-case
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:00 pm

'Baby Kate' scientists scoping out Mason County to prepare for plant search


June 05, 2013 at 2:10 PM


LUDINGTON, MI – A team of experts in the Katherine “Baby Kate” Phillips case has been checking areas of Mason County on Tuesday and Wednesday for soil and plants matching material found on the shoes of the missing baby’s father, Sean Michael Phillips

The idea is to narrow a larger search planned for June 28 and 29 with the aid of qualified volunteers searching for the infant’s body.
Authorities believe the baby, who vanished June 29, 2011, is dead.

“They’re meeting together and going over some potential areas,” said Ludington Police Chief Mark A. Barnett. “It’s just progressing along and making good headway.”

Barnett said experts from Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Chicago’s Field Museum are conducting this week’s preparatory search.

A large enough variety of plants has been found to narrow the area where law enforcement members believe Phillips was walking when, authorities think, he abandoned Baby Kate's body. The idea of this week’s search is to reduce the area still further.

On June 28 and 29 – the exact time of year the baby vanished -- volunteers with experience and credentials in plant identification will work with professors from MSU, the University of Michigan and the Chicago Field Museum to search the sites that have been identified.

Officials have declined to identify the specific sites to be searched.

Sean Phillips, 23, is the father of the infant who went missing when she was 4½ months old.

A Mason County jury in April 2012 found him guilty of unlawful imprisonment. He was later sentenced to prison for 10 to 15 years, the longest possible sentence allowed by law. Phillips is appealing his conviction and sentencing. The case then transitioned to a homicide case, police and prosecutors said immediately after Phillips was sentenced.

In September 2012, a letter surfaced publicly that appeared to have been written by Phillips from prison to the baby’s mother, Ariel Courtland, admitting that he killed the baby but claiming it was an accident. In the letter, Phillips said that he had put Baby Kate in a “peaceful place.”

That place has never been found.

The botanical forensic work began more than a year ago with the recovery of tiny seeds and soil from Phillips’ shoes. At the time of Phillips’ sentencing June 5, 2012, Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola said the seeds had been germinated in hopes of determining what plants they were, thereby possibly narrowing the search areas for the baby’s remains.

The investigation has continued on other fronts as well.

Just last week, several witnesses were interviewed under oath May 28 pursuant to a court order, Spaniola said. The prosecutor said
Michigan law forbids the release of the identities of the people interviewed, their statements and the topics discussed, in order to
protect their rights and the integrity of the investigation.

http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2013/06/baby_kate_scientists_scoping_o.html
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:54 pm

Botanists brought in to search for Baby Kate's body

Updated: Friday, June 28 2013, 08:24 AM EDT
LUDINGTON, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Two years after little Katherine Phillips went missing, search crews will be back out Friday searching for the infant girl's body.

Police are hoping plant materials from the shoes that Baby Kate's father was wearing the day she disappeared will lead them to the her remains.

They will be out searching for the next two days.

Last year her father, Sean Phillips, was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison after a jury convicted him of unlawful imprisonment.

Police say they are still treating the case as a homicide.

In April investigators announced that scientists have been examining his shoes and found plant samples that could help solve the case. They say the types of plants found are very rare and only in certain areas in West Michigan, so police are hoping they will help lead them to where the baby is buried.

“Sean Phillips communicated in the letter that he 'put Baby Kate in a peaceful place.' Ongoing examinations of the material found on Sean's shoes are being conducted to determine the whereabouts of this 'peaceful place,'" said Chief Mark Barnett.

“At the end of June is when these particular plants particularly Carex and sedges are in fruit and its my understanding this is the easiest time to do a positive identification,” said Plant Biologist Dr. Frank Telewski.

Search teams will be out Friday and Saturday looking for Baby Kate.

They chose these days because it's around the time two years ago that she disappeared, so the plant material will be similar.

We will keep you updated on their search efforts.

http://wwmt.com/news/features/featured/stories/-botanists-brought-search-baby-kates-body-1364.shtml
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Re: KATHERINE "Baby Kate" PHILLIPS - 4 Months (6/2011) - Ludington (NW of Grand Rapids) MI

Post by twinkletoes on Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:53 pm

Baby Kate: Dad of missing Michigan infant faces murder charge

Oct. 4, 2013



This undated booking photo released by the Michigan Department of Attorney General shows Sean Phillips. Phillips, 23, has been charged with killing his infant daughter, Katherine Phillips, who was 4½ months old when last seen in the Ludington, Mich., area more than two years ago, prosecutors said Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Michigan

LUDINGTON — A western Michigan man has been charged with killing his infant daughter, who disappeared more than two years ago, prosecutors said Friday.

The filing of an open murder count against Sean Phillips “moves us one step closer to securing justice for Baby Kate,” state Attorney General Bill Schuette said when announcing the charge with Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola.


Phillips, 23, was convicted last year of unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of Katherine Phillips. She was 4½ months old when last seen in the Ludington area, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Schuette said at a news conference that “new evidence has been discovered which supports a murder charge in this case,” but provided no details, the Ludington Daily News reported.

Phillips was arraigned Friday during a videoconference with Magistrate Patricia Baker, who said she would appoint an attorney to represent him.

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. He received a sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison and is appealing.

Katherine’s mother, Ariel Courtland, testified earlier in the case that she last saw her daughter in a car seat in the back seat of Phillips’ car.

The Daily News reported that police found Phillips about three hours after Courtland reported her daughter’s disappearance. Officers found the baby’s car seat and diaper bag in the trunk and found her balled-up, inside-out clothing in his pocket, the newspaper said.


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

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,” Spaniola said.

Ludington city police and the Mason County Sheriff’s Department worked on the case with help from the Michigan State Police and the FBI.


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

http://www.thetimesherald.com/viewart/20131004/NEWS05/310040008/Baby-Kate-Dad-missing-Michigan-infant-faces-murder-charge
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