Phillips murder prelim this week

March 31, 2014
Sean Phillips during his 2012 trial

Sean Phillips during his 2012 trial

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

LUDINGTON — Sean Michael Phillips will appear in 79th District Court later this week for a preliminary examination in front of Judge Peter Wadel. Phillips has been charged with the murder of his 4-month-old daughter, Katherine Phillips.

At a preliminary exam, also known as a probable cause hearing, the prosecution has to show that a crime has occurred and that it is more likely than not that the criminal defendant committed the crime.

A preliminary examination must take place 14 days after arraignment. In this case, Phillips waived that right. The preliminary examination had been scheduled for January but was postponed, per the request of Phillips’ defense attorney.

The judge will decide if the case meets the criteria of being bound over to circuit court.

Katherine Phillips, also known as Baby Kate, has been missing since June 29, 2011. Phillips is serving a 10- to 15-year prison sentence for unlawful imprisonment of Kate. Testimony during his April 2012 trial revealed that he was the last person to see the baby.

In October 2013, Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced that they had filed murder charges against Phillips.

The charges are based on a series of circumstantial evidence, (see related story here), included a confession letter that Phillips allegedly wrote from prison.

While many people have speculated that Baby Kate’s mother, Ariel Courtland, is involved in the case, Ludington Police Chief Mark Barnett has stated several times that Phillips is the only suspect.

The preliminary examination is expected to last two days, beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday.


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