Murder trial turns focus to so-called confession letter.

October 6, 2016
MDOC Inspector Craig Smith with the alleged confession letter.  File photo.

MDOC Inspector Craig Smith with the alleged confession letter. File photo.

Murder trial turns focus to so-called confession letter. 


LUDINGTON — Testimony in the 51st Circuit Court murder trial against Sean Michael Phillips continues today, Thursday, Oct. 6, with the prosecution turning its focus to a note and a letter allegedly written by Phillips after his incarceration.

Phillips is on trial for the murder of his 4-month-old daughter, Katherine “Baby Kate” Phillips, who was last seen on June 29, 2011. He is currently serving a 10 to 15 year prison sentence for the unlawful imprisonment (kidnapping) of the infant.

The jury viewed a copy of a note found in Phillips’ pocket while he was in the Mason County jail a month after Kate’s disappearance.

Prosecutors also presented a two-page letter they say Phillips wrote to Ariel Courtland, Katherine’s mother, in 2012.  An Ionia prison official called it a confession letter.  In it, Phillips allegedly told Courtland he  threw Kate’s car seat while she was still in it and then left her body in a “peaceful place.” The incident allegedly took place at the Wendy’s restaurant on US 10 in Pere Marquette Township.

The letter is a key piece of evidence in the prosecution’s case, which is based largely on circumstantial evidence. Kate’s remains have not been found.

Judge Peter Wadel

Judge Peter Wadel

The following is a transcript of the unsigned letter:

This is what you want, ok. I always felt that I needed to do this in person. That you deserved that, and that we would both need each other for that.

Also didn’t feel safe writing these things anyways. Still dont, but this can’t wait any longer.

I think I could even make it though talking about that day here now.

I cry trying to talk about much less. I just wanted to leave that day Ariel. I was surprised when you opened my door and that you could have even made it down there fast enough to catch me. That and almost everything I don’t think I need to say or do you actually believe the shit you told them?

phillips_trial_baby_kate_mason_county_murder_007When I brought you back I didn’t park, so that you would just get out and not pull any more shit to try to keep me there longer. Even when you sat there with the door open and foot out and I had to interrupt you three times with “I don’t care” before you got out. You said something like “whatever f*** you” and “I’m gonna ruin your life” then walked around and spent a minute getting Kate out.

I was pretending to be busy why my phone or something so you would hopefully just leave me alone. Heard the door shut, saw you walk off. Your hands in front of you not on your sides. Like you were holding Kate. I drove away. A blonde lady by the office and I looked at each other as I passed.

There was some stuff I wanted to get done in town but I was tired and hung over and trying to decide whether to put it off till another time. Stopped at Wendy’s to get something to eat and for time to make up my mind, but mostly to piss.

The phone kept ringing there. I went back to the car and ate. The whole time that f***ing phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I could feel through my shorts to hit the volume button to silence a call, but the seat was too far up for me to get it out of my pocket to make it stop ringing because the car seat was in the way. It was driving me crazy and I was so mad at you. For that day for everything lately, for everything ever maybe ever.

When I tried to move the seat back to get the phone it was blocked by that car seat and I was pissed that you left it in there just to try to make me bring it back later. So pissed that I got out and was going to just throw it out into that area between Burger King.

I pulled but it was jammed between the seats. That just made it worse. I grabbed it at the top and ripped it out as hard as I could. She was thrown from it. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.

Held her for a long time. Seemed like forever. Maybe an hour, maybe a minute. Might not have been long. I can’t explain a lot. Some things can only be lived. In a way I couldn’t understand it. It didn’t seem real. I didn’t want it to be. It felt like falling, and like my head would explode. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t do anything. It eventually sunk in or something. I started crying. Couldn’t stop. I’ve never cried that hard, seemed like my throat was closing. Mind was racing, yet I couldn’t think. I guess I was in shock. I never even tried to help her. Never even thought to. Just sat there, holding her. I don’t think anything could have been done.

Still I used to hate myself for not trying. Think I was there an hour and that after like a half hour and that it wasn’t till right before I left that I realized calling 911. It was to late. I wouldn’t be able to talk. I wouldn’t know what to say anyways. I couldn’t bring myself to pick up that phone. Scared of it and of the world. In a way I felt like it had killed her. You and it. I needed to believe I didn’t hurt her that it was all your fault.

That sounds wrong, but I can’t explain it right. A part of me knew I was losing Haley too. When I realized how long I must have been there seemed like even less of an option. I never decided to leave or anything. There was this urge or something I can’t explain. Needed to get away from there or just do something, anything.

I drove, not to anywhere or for any reason. Just drove. A few things I suddenly realized I was driving, but couldn’t remember how I came to be or where I was. Almost crashed twice. The second time I stopped and pulled off the road. I needed out of that car, and I just walked off. After a while I stopped.

For the first time I could think some. Thought about Kate. Her smile, the way she looks around. Everything, what should have been. Id held her all this time, couldn’t bring myself to really look at her though I did now. I wanted to kill you. I cried. I cried until I somehow couldn’t anymore. She was set in a peaceful place. I was walking and lost. Couldn’t breath hardly.

Thought about sitting down and waiting to die of dehydration. Felt close. Then I was driving and for the first time I realized I had left her. I wanted to die. Couldn’t bring myself to crash but didn’t try not to . No seatbelt, paying no attention. Almost did once, instinct or whatever made me save it. Another time I almost hit another car. After that I drove normal, couldn’t bear the thought of hurting anyone else while trying to hurt myself.

Then I was close to home and drying of thirst. Tried to detach myself. Already was in some way.

Went home to be alone and to get a drink. Stood in the middle of my room. Was still there for a while thought about taking my gun and leaving. Me, not you anymore. Wanted to go to you but I wasn’t ready for that.

My mom bothered me about the phone again and I knew I had to return the call. I just needed to be alone. I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone. Just said you should have her. Its true. Only wanted them to go away, when that didn’t happen I thought I had just committed to that story. That to change it would throw away any chance I had. That they would never believe me because of it being that day. And never believe how she came to be left there. Also figured it a reasonable story.

I didn’t think they could keep me for more than a couple days at the most. That didn’t happen. When I met Annette I begged to talk to you alone. They said no. Paul made it clear he doesn’t give a shit about me or Kate or you. They weren’t willing to let me talk to them not that I would. I needed you. Not Tom Posma in a cold room on video. They even tried everything to keep me from talking to you about that day. I didn’t accept that I wasn’t getting out and getting to talk to you till about 2 weeks + in.

After the first couple days it had seemed harder to do the right thing. I expected to be let out after the prelim. It crushed me. Like you just implied that you really don’t give a f*** about Kate, only who does and does not get in trouble. And right before that I got Kenny, April dads interviews. They all said you don’t act like your child is missing or anything.

Then you were always trying to get recordings for court and saying stupid shit on phones. At that point I wanted you to go to prison.

Before then, I’m sorry I lied about Kate being ok. I wanted to tell you the truth so bad, to hold you, to be held. I said that because I thought you would do something then. Couldn’t believe you wouldn’t just get me the f*** out or make them allow us to talk.

For a long time blocked that day and Kate from my mind. Almost refused to acknowledge it to myself. Eventually I thought I would just never tell you what happened. It had already been so long w/o me being able to. That changed. The day I was found innocent I was going to go to you.

It was a long time before I started thinking about her and that day. The nightmares, panic attacks, nothing would get better. Think about it all was horrible, but it has helped. I use to hear my heart racing and almost collapse just from seeing a picture of her. I can smile now. I can remember her the way you do, and not another way as well.

I don’t’ think you could ever understand. Some things I don’t completely. I never decided to pick her up. Never decided to call or not call 911, or to leave, or to set her down. It was like I was watching these things, not doing them, not sure what I’m seeing.

The only time I thought and anything was ? was when I was standing outside and then from when I almost hit that car. I wasn’t dumping a body, wasn’t like that at all. I want her buried too. I don’t know where she was left. Some idea. Feel like I could get there. No, its not some f***ing swamp or lake. I know if they had left me alone I would have came to you that day.

I was thrown into the worst possible thing at the worst possible time. Everything just happened, and I never had the chance to do the right thing.

There’s been other letters to you. Ones that never were sent. Oddly this one has done the worst of all in telling you, yet its the one Im making myself send. If I don’t again then when? There will never be one I feel right with. These things mostly need to be talked about in person. Annette has the original, tear soaked one. Addressed to you, only it includes that lie about me thinking you could have possibly killed her.

Theres still a lot things I don’t understand. 90% of the things you told them were lies. Some things I don’t know if it was me or them you lied to them some other things. At the time it was something how you used her and acted a lot of the time like you could give a f*** less about her.

How you kept dragging out the adoption, which would just make it harder on her. Couldn’t believe you wanted to do that test before finishing the adoption that day, just to make me pay. I never once thought you had any intention whatsoever of keeping her.

Still don’t know why so many of the things you did said or whatever. Blamed for so long. Theres so many stupid little things that could have made such a difference. things as small as a phone call or using the bathroom.

Both of us f***ed up some. Id give anything to go back. To that day, January, the summer I went to Georgia.

I want my parents to know. Things spouses tell each other is confidence cant be made to testify. But we aren’t married yet in the eyes of the government. Then hearsay cant be used, so if you told then it would be hearsay as it didnt come from me. But Grand Jury can sometimes allow hearsay. Could you ask your attorney about that stuff? If you want to ask me things try to do it all at once. So we arent hearing incriminating stuff more than we need to.

Out of time for mail. Destroy theses. We’ll talk.

Eats & Drinks

Eats & Drinks