“Baby Kate” Murder Trial Underway In Ludington

A high-profile murder trial five years in the works is now underway in Ludington. Sean Phillips is charged with murder in the death of his four-and-a-half month old daughter, Katherine, in 2011. She quickly became known around West Michigan as “Baby Kate.” The girl’s mother, Ariel Courtland, testified as the trial opened on Thursday and said Phillips wanted her to get an abortion.

“He didn’t think that we could handle another child right now,” she said. The two were headed to have DNA testing done on June 29, 2011 when the baby vanished with Phillips. He took off in his car with her when Courtland went inside to get a stroller. He was later arrested, without the child. Prosecutor Donna Pendergast questioned Courtland about her reaction to that news.

“What did you do?” asked the prosecutor, with Courtland responding “I started throwing up.”

Defense attorney David Glancy says the prosecution can’t even prove that there was a murder, let alone that Phillips committed the crime.

“There’s no blood, no physical evidence, no body,” said Glancy.

The trial is expected to last three weeks, and about 60 witnesses will be called to testify. Phillips is currently serving time for an earlier conviction for unlawful imprisonment in his daughter’s disappearance.