Prosecutor must prove Judge Wadel made wrong decision in Baby Kate murder case.

December 5, 2014
Prosecutor Donna Pendergast of the Michigan Attorney General's office argues against Judge Wadel's decision. Foreground, defense attorney David Glancy. Background, Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola.

Prosecutor Donna Pendergast of the Michigan Attorney General’s office argues against Judge Wadel’s decision. Foreground, defense attorney David Glancy. Background, Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

LUDINGTON — Arguments are being held right now in the 51st Circuit Court appeal case on the dismissed open murder charges against Sean Michael Phillips. In Oct. 2013, the Michigan attorney general’s office filed the charges against Phillips in relation to the June 29, 2012 disappearance of Phillips’ 4-month-old daughter, Katherine Phillips, also known as “Baby Kate.”

Sean Phillips is currently serving in 10 to 15 year prison for a 2013 sentence of unlawful imprisonment of the infant. He is not present in the courtroom. 

In the state of Michigan, when a person is arraigned on a felony charge, the defendant is allowed a preliminary examination in district court, in which the prosecutor must show probable cause that there is enough evidence to bind the case to circuit court; felony cases are tried in circuit court.

There has been a lot in the news lately about the grand jury in the case in Ferguson, Missouri, involving a police officer who killed a suspect. While the grand jury process is also a probable cause hearing, Michigan does not normally hold grand juries. Those decisions are decided by the district court.

In September of this year, 79th District Court Judge Pete Wadel ruled that the prosecution had not proved there is enough evidence to bind the murder charges to circuit court.

The prosecution filed an appeal of that decision. The appeal is then handed to the circuit court. Today, 51st Circuit Court Judge Richard Cooper is hearing the attorney arguments.

Today, Donna Pendergast of the attorney general’s office, and court appointed defense attorney David Glancy, are arguing their points. The plaintiff (the prosecutors) must prove that Judge Wadel’s dismissal of the murder case was an “abuse of discretion.” Judge Cooper cannot reverse the decision just because he feels it’s the right thing to do.

More on the hearing to follow.

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