The baby’s father, who was the last one to be seen with the infant, is currently serving prison time after being previously convicted of unlawful imprisonment related to his daughter’s disappearance
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced on December 9 that Sean Phillips, 25, was sentenced to 19 to 45 years time in prison for the second-degree murder of his infant daughter Katherine Phillips, also known as “Baby Kate.”
“Not only was a little girl denied the opportunity to grow up, but her family was forever changed by this man’s actions,” said Schuette. “Those actions can never be undone, but my one hope is that today’s sentencing provides a small amount of peace in knowing that the person responsible is finally facing the consequences of their actions.”
Phillips was sentenced December 9, 2016 before Judge Peter Wadel in 79th District Court Court. He was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder on October 14, 2016, following a two- week trial.
The conviction followed a joint prosecution by the Attorney General’s office and Mason County Prosecutors Office and a multi-jurisdictional investigation by local, state and federal authorities.
“I’d like to thank Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, Chief Mark Barnett, Sheriff Kim Cole, the Michigan State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for providing their assistance in this trial and prior investigation,” said Schuette.
Phillips was the last person to be seen with four-and-a-half-month-old Katherine Phillips on June 29, 2011. After an argument, Phillips took the infant from her mother’s home. For the next two hours he was unreachable and his whereabouts were unknown.
When Phillips resurfaced at his parents’ house, his daughter was gone. The clothes she had been wearing were found in the pocket of the cargo shorts Phillips was wearing, while her empty car seat and diaper bag were found in the trunk of his vehicle.
His actions and statements following this led to a charge of unlawful imprisonment of the infant. Phillips was convicted of unlawful imprisonment in 2012 by Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, resulting in a 10-15 year prison sentence for Phillips. Since August 2012, Attorney General Schuette’s Appellate Division has represented Mason County in opposing Sean Phillips’ appeal of that conviction.
This evidence along with statements made while Phillips was serving his unlawful imprisonment sentence then led to the current murder charge.
Schuette and Spaniola filed one open murder charge against Phillips, of Scottville, on October 4, 2013, more than two years after Baby Kate went missing. The charge alleged that Sean Phillips murdered his daughter, Katherine ‘Kate’ Phillips on June 29, 2011. By definition, an Open Murder charge allows jurors to determine the level of the defendant’s culpability.
He was found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder in October 2016.
Despite exhaustive efforts by law enforcement over the past five years, Baby Kate has never been found.