Judge dismisses open murder case against Phillips.

September 15, 2014
Sean Phillips

Sean Phillips

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

LUDINGTON — Judge Pete Wadel has ruled that there is not enough evidence to charge Sean Phillips with the murder of his infant daughter, Katherine “Baby Kate” Phillips. In July, a preliminary examination was held in 79th District Court to show probable cause that the prosecution had enough evidence to charge Phillips with open murder.

Phillips of Victory Township is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for unlawful imprisonment in relation to the 2011 disappearance of Baby Kate, who was 4-months-old when she was last seen.

In October 2013, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, along with Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola announced they were filing murder charges against Phillips.

The Hon. Pete Wadel, 79th District Court judge.

The Hon. Pete Wadel, 79th District Court judge.

“This case is about an infant who has been missing now for over three years,” Wadel wrote in his opinion. “The baby cannot be found despite the diligent efforts of law enforcement. A baby is not deceased merely because she is missing, especially since the defendant indicated that he gave her away for private, non-legal adoption. The only proofs presented that the baby is dead comes from defendant’s letter to Ariel Courtland (mother of Baby Kate). When used to establish that the baby is dead, the letter then becomes the source for how the baby died, by accent and not by criminal agency.

“The prosecution has failed to show that the crime of open murder has been committed because the proofs failed to show death by a criminal act of defendant. This case is dismissed.”

See entire opinion here.


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