The father of missing 4-month-old Katherine “Baby Kate” Phillips has been charged with murder, two years after the infant girl was last seen alive, prosecutors announced Friday at a press conference.
Sean Michael Phillips, 23, was charged with one count of open murder. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Phillips is currently serving 10-15 years after a jury convicted him in April 2012 in the unlawful imprisonment of his daughter. He is appealing that conviction.
The 4-month-old girl was reported missing on June 29, 2011, when her father allegedly drove away from her mother’s Ludington, Michigan, apartment with her in the car after an argument. Phillips was arrested at his parents’ house three hours later, but Katherine was gone and the clothes she was last seen wearing were found in his pocket, according to police.
“More than two years ago on June 29, 2011, Baby Kate was murdered,” Attorney General Bill Schuette said at the press conference. “Unfortunately, we will never be able to bring Baby Kate back. She was an innocent victim of a terrible crime at the hands of her own father, no less. This is a tragic case. It just makes you sick. There will be no first birthday party for Baby Kate. No first day of kindergarten. No first Christmas.”
Schuette said officials discovered new evidence in the case that supports the murder charge, but he declined to elaborate on what authorities have found.
“We have evidence that we are convinced will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Sean Phillips murdered his own daughter, Baby Kate,” Schuette said.
Phillips was arraigned Friday from the Carson City Correctional Facility during a video conference. He will receive a court-appointed attorney.
The open murder charge means a jury can consider both first- and second-degree murder.
“My job as Attorney General is to serve as a voice for victims, no matter who you are or where you live,” Schuette said in a press release. “The filing of this open murder charge moves us one step closer to securing justice for Baby Kate.”