Sean Phillips’ mother among several witnesses

April 3, 2014
Kim Phillips

Kim Phillips

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

Chad Skiba, former LPD officer.

Chad Skiba, former LPD officer.

LUDINGTON — Several witnesses were called to the stand today during the preliminary examination of Sean Michael Phillips in 79th District Court. Phillips is charged with the June 29, 2011 murder of his 4-month-old daughter Katherine Phillips.

The purpose of the examination is to determine if the prosecutor has enough proof to proceed in circuit court.

The morning session and part of the afternoon session included testimony from Ariel Courtland, mother of Katherine “Baby Kate”.

The afternoon session included Mason County Sheriff’s deputy Ken Baum, who had served Sean Phillips the paternity order a few weeks prior to June 29. It also included Alaina Campbell, Ariel’s friend who drove her around after Katherine disappeared.

Michigan Department of Human Services child protective services agent Anna Appledorn was an intake agent in the Ludington office at the time. She recalled how Ariel abruptly came into that office on June 29 asking if Sean had left Katherine there.

Judge Pete Wadel

Judge Pete Wadel

Former Ludington Police Office Chad Skiba was the first law enforcement officer to work the case. He first spoke with Ariel after she called 911. He later spoke with Sean on the phone.

“If I asked him a question he would repeat my question or it would take him quite a while to respond to my questions,” Skiba said.

Kimberly Phillips testified.

“Our relationship was strained,” Kimberly said. She said there were a lot of difficult and hard feelings with Ariel. The Phillips had experiences with Ariel prior because Sean and Ariel had another daughter.

Prosecutor Donna Pendergast of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, pressed Kimberly in a line of questioning regarding whether or not Kimberly and Larry had threatened Sean would be kicked out of the family home if he had impregnated Ariel.

Kimberly said that she has asked Sean about the whereabouts of Katherine but he has refused to talk about it.

“He told me he would not go into all that,” she said. “He does not want to put us, where you are able to ask me and I have to say.”

Kimberly said she read the alleged confession letter from Sean. “I was very shocked and very sad,” she said. “In time we just didn’t know if we could believe it or not.”

She said since Kate’s alleged murder and Sean’s imprisonment, their relationship with Ariel has improved.

“We communicate more. She realizes now that we are not the evil parents that she thought we were.”

Court continues Friday at 9 a.m.

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