Circumstantial evidence released in Baby Kate case
A letter allegedly written by Sean Phillips in prison will serve as evidence against him in the trial of the murder of his four-month-old daughter Katherine Phillips.
According to documents of the probable cause hearing for the arrest warrant, the fact the Phillips was the last person to see his daughter, "Baby Kate" as she has become known, the fact that he was in possession of her diaper bag, car seat, and the clothes she was last seen wearing, and the fact that his whereabouts are unaccounted for at the time she went missing will all be used as evidence against him.
Court records show that Detective Mike Kenney said during the mother, Ariel Courtland's, pregnancy with Katherine, Phillips claimed the baby was not his to family and friends. After the child's birth, Kenney claims Phillips urged Courtland to put the baby up for adoption several times. Court records claim Phillips also gave Courtland money to use for an abortion while pregnant.
Court records allege Phillips was angry to have been served with paternity paperwork after the child's birth. The Mason County Circuit Court ordered a DNA test to confirm the paternity, which was scheduled for June 29, 2011 - the day Baby Kate went missing.
Court records claim after the paternity test, Phillips went Courtland's apartment where the two argued about placing the child up for adoption. They then got into the car and drove to the Department of Human Services where the adoption argument continued, the records say.
In the court documents, Kenney claims Courtland then asked to be taken home. They arrived home shortly after 1 p.m. and Courtland went into the apartment to get the stroller, the court documents claim.
Records allege that when Courtland came back outside, Phillips, the car and the child were gone. She has not been seen since.
Phillips was arrested at 4:23 p.m. at his home in Scottville, records show. He allegedly had the clothes Baby Kate was last seen wearing rolled up, inside out and in his pocket. After searching his car, authorities found the child's car seat and diaper bag hidden in the trunk.
While being arrested, court documents show Phillips told officers he was not telling them the whole truth.
Court records claim Phillips gave officers conflicting statements about where the child was. He allegedly first told officers that Courtland had her. Then, days later, he claimed he "gave her to a guy for adoption." Over a year later, a letter surfaced, allegedly written by Phillips that said the child died and he had put her to rest in a "peaceful place."
In the five-page, handwritten letter, allegedly written from Phillips to Courtland, the father explains that the baby's death was an accident, when he became angry and threw the car seat without knowing she was in it.
"I grabbed it at the top and ripped it out as hard as I could," the letter said. "She was thrown from it. I didn't know. I'm sorry. Held her for a long time. Seemed like forever. Maybe an hour, maybe a minute."
The letter said he then drove and drove, not knowing where he was headed. He then said he set her in a "peaceful place."
"It wasn't dumping a body," the letter reads. "Wasn't like that at all. I want her buried too. I don't know where she was left. No, it's not some f------ swamp or lake."
"Everything just happened, and I never had a chance to do the right thing," the letter reads.
A mention of marriage comes at the end of the letter.
"Things spouses tell each other in confidence can't be made to testify. But we aren't married yet in the eye of the government."
It ends abruptly: "Out of time for mail. Destroy this. We'll talk."
To read the full letter