No verdict yet in Baby Kate case.

October 12, 2016
Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips

#MasonCountyNews #BabyKate

No verdict yet in Baby Kate case.

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

LUDINGTON — After more than four hours of deliberation, the 12-member jury in the Sean Phillips murder trial has not yet reached a verdict.

It was announced at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, that the jurors were sent home and will return to the Mason County Courthouse Thursday morning to continue deliberating.

The jury has to decide if Phillips is guilty of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 disappearance of his 4-month-old daughter, Katherine Phillips, “Baby Kate.”

The jurors heard closing arguments by the prosecution and defense Wednesday morning in 51st Circuit Court prior to deliberating on a verdict. Wednesday marked the 13th day of the trial.

Judge Peter Wadel instructed the jurors that they could consider a second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter conviction. A second-degree murder conviction requires that the defendant “intended to kill or do great bodily harm,” Wadel said. Manslaughter requires the element that the defendant acted “grossly negligent,” which is more than “carelessness,” he said. Neither conviction requires that the body is recovered. Baby Kate’s body has never been found. According to Mason County Sheriff Detective Sgt. Tom Posma’s testimony, Baby Kate’s body was likely eaten by coyotes after being discarded in the woods.

Wadel on Tuesday acquitted Phillips of first-degree murder charges, which requires the element of premeditation. Phillips, 26, avoided life imprisonment with Tuesday’s ruling.

Phillips treated Baby Kate as a “throw-away baby,” said Prosecutor Donna Pendergast of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. The prosecutor described Phillips as a cold-blooded murderer who considered his baby a “burden” or “impediment.”

“The facts support that this was an accident,” said Defense Attorney David Glancy. He described his client as a “panicked, scared” 21-year-old. Glancy picked apart the prosecution’s theories, aiming to put “reasonable doubt” in the jurors’ minds that there was an intent to kill or even a death. “They don’t have any physical evidence to prove this claim,” he said.

Phillips did not testify during the trial. He has been incarcerated since the day Kate went missing, June 29, 2011. He has been in prison since June 5, 2012, serving a 10-15 year term for the unlawful imprisonment (kidnapping) of Baby Kate. His earliest release date is June 29, 2021.

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