Baby Kate's mom testifies

7:39 PM, Apr 17, 2012   |    comments
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  • Katherine Phillips (Courtesy: Michigan State Police)
  • Sean Phillips

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WZZM) - Opening statements have been made and the prosecution called their first witness in Sean Phillips trial in the Baby Kate case.

Phillips is on trial for unlawful imprisonment in the case where Kate Phillips, who was 4 1/2 months old at the time, disappeared.  She has not been found.  Phillips is the biological father of Baby Kate.

The first witness called to the stand by the prosecution was Ariel Courtland, Baby's Kate's mother. 

In opening statement, the prosecutor told the jury that Phillips was the last person to see Baby Kate and has been concealing her whereabouts from police.  The defense says that there has been a "string of lies" involving police and other witnesses.

WZZM 13's Jon Mills was in court for Tuesday's proceedings. He reports Ariel Courtland testified her relationship with Sean Phillips was on-again and off-again.

We learned the day Baby Kate went missing she was supposed to have DNA tests conducted to confirm Sean Phillips was the father. However, according to Courtland, she and Phillips fought and missed their appointment at the hospital.

Courtland told jurors after that argument, she was getting a stroller from a storage area at her apartment when Phillips left with the infant in the back seat. That prompted a call to police and weeks of searching for the chid without success.

Courtland said during her pregnancy with Kate, Phillips was pressuring her to get an abortion. After Kate was born, Courtland says, that turned into efforts to give the baby up for adoption.

During cross-examination Phillip's attorney spent more than two hours going over dozens of text messages Courtland sent Phillips. In them, Courtland repeatedly asked for money from Phillips to get the procedure. At one point texting, "Why can't I come over there and get the money so we can get this over with?"

In the testimony, a voicemail was played where Courtland called Sean Phillips mother after Baby Kate's disappearance.  In the message, Courtland says, ""Tell your dumb A** son to give me my daughter back. This is kidnapping. What is his deal?"

At 5:40 p.m. Tuesday the jury was sent home for the day. Testimony will resume on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

With reporting by Jon Mills

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