Jury sent home after two days without verdict

Baby Kate murder Trial

LUDINGTON, MICH. - As of 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, the jury deciding the guilt or innocence of Sean Phillips still had not reached a verdict, and for a second day they were sent home. 

Jurors returned to the Mason County courthouse in Ludington around 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Sean Phillips is the father of Katherine "Baby Kate" Phillips. She was 4-months-old in 2011 when she went missing. Numerous searches around Mason County were conducted by both police and members of the public.

Her body was never found.

Closing arguments from the prosecution and defense concluded around noon Wednesday, Oct. 12.

Wednesday afternoon jurors asked to have Katherine's car seat in the deliberation room. Mason County Judge Peter Wadel granted the request.

Thursday morning, they had a question for the judge. In the courtroom he read the question to himself and told jurors he could not answer the question. The content of the question was not made public.

Wednesday morning during closing arguments, prosecutor Donna Pendergast told jurors not to be fooled by Sean Phillips' calculated actions to mislead and cover up what happened to "Baby Kate." Much of what she said centered around a letter Phillips wrote while in prison. 

In that letter, Phillips said he put Kate in a "peaceful place."

"A peaceful place out in the middle of the wild, naked, so animals could rip apart her body," Pendergast, said. "Babies do not just end up naked in the woods, somebody has to put them there."

That somebody Pendergast said is Phillips.

Tuesday, Mason County Judge Peter Wadel acquitted Phillips of a first-degree premeditated murder charge. Jurors will decide a second-degree murder charge.

Wadel told them during jury instructions they may also consider a charge of involuntary manslaughter, but only after reaching a unanimous decision of not guilty on the second-degree murder charge.

The trial began with jury selection on Sept. 26, with testimony from more than 40 witnesses since then.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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