Sean Phillips acquitted of 1st degree murder in 'Baby Kate' trial

A Mason County judge makes a major ruling in favor of the defense at the 'Baby Kate' trial.

LUDINGTON, MICH. - A judge has acquitted Sean Phillips of first-degree murder charges in the case of the disappearance of "Baby Kate," Katherine Phillips.

The judge, however, will allow the jury to consider second-degree murder charges against Sean Phillips. That does not include premeditation murder and allows him to be up for parole. 

Judge Peter Wadel issued a directed verdict on the first-degree murder charges midday Tuesday, Oct. 11. He said he will allow the jury to deliberate about second-degree murder charges. Wadel and the attorneys in the case will put specific information into the jury instructions about considering second-degree murder.

In his comments, Wadel said there is not "at all" enough evidence to support first-degree murder charges.

Sean Phillips is accused of killing his 4-month-old daughter, Katherine Phillips, known as "Baby Kate." She disappeared in 2011 and her body has never been found.

Defense attorneys asked for a directed verdict, telling the judge the case might involve manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, or an accident, but not pre-meditated murder.

The prosecution rested its case Tuesday morning after calling a lead detective in the case back to the stand. He told jurors the day Kate went missing all of the trash in Mason County was segregated and searched before it went to the landfill.

He also talked about the numerous searches for "Baby Kate," which were unsuccessful.

© 2018 WZZM-TV


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