Sean Phillips’ former cellmate cross examined in ‘Baby Kate’ trial

Sean Phillips accused of murdering his 4-month-old daughter in 2011

Rushaun Burton testifies in the Sean Phillips murder trial. (Oct. 10, 2016)
Rushaun Burton testifies in the Sean Phillips murder trial. (Oct. 10, 2016)

LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) — Sean Phillips’ former cellmate faced cross examination by the defense Monday after testifying last week that Phillips told him he got rid of his daughter, Katherine Phillips.

Rushaun Burton said he met Sean Phillips after Phillips was convicted of the unlawful imprisonment of his 4-month-old daughter, dubbed Baby Kate.

On Monday, the defense questioned Burton about his alleged conversation with Phillips regarding Baby Kate’s whereabouts.

Burton said that Phillips told him they would never find “the baby” not “the body” as Burton previously testified on Friday. Burton said Phillips was worried about having to pay money out for Baby Kate.

Defense attorney David Glancy brought up the number of times Burton had been denied parole prior to testifying against Phillips. He also brought up Burton’s prison violations and alleged lying to corrections officials.

“I’m here to do the right thing,” Burton said.

“I almost got killed because of this case,” he added.

Sean Phillips and Katherine Phillips
Sean Phillips (left) appears in court Oct. 4, 2016 during his trial in the murder of his 4-month-old daughter, Katherine Phillips (right).

Phillips is charged with open murder in the death of Baby Kate, who was last seen alive with him in Ludington in June 2011. Since Kate’s remains have not been found, much of the case against Phillips, 26, is based on circumstantial evidence, including a letter he allegedly wrote in prison in which he confessed that he pulled Kate’s car seat from his car and that she was thrown from it. Prosecutors drew attention to that letter in court last week.

Also Monday, Ludington Police Detective Michael Kenney gave the jury a rundown of what was known about Phillips based on footage from the local hospital showing Phillips and Kate’s mom, Ariel Courtland, showing up there.

Police also showed that Phillips changed his shoes and socks between the time he was seen with Kate and the time he was arrested.

The detective showed the jury cellphone tower records that showed where Courtland was at the time Kate disappeared and that she was repeatedly, obsessively trying to contact Phillips. The prosecution contends Phillips turned off his phone so he could not be traced.

It is vital for the prosecution to convince the jury of their timeline of Phillips’ whereabouts, because the defense will point out again what is missing from the case: a body.

“Anywhere in here that it shows any evidence of a death?” Glancy asked Kenney. “We have lots of phone calls, but there’s no…”

“That’s correct,” the detective answered.

Attorneys expect to make their closing arguments Tuesday, after which the case will be turned over to the jury.

Since testimony began two weeks ago, jurors have also heard from Ariel Courtland; Phillips’ mother, Kim Phillips; officers who spoke with Phillips on the day Kate disappeared; Phillips’ neighbors; and experts in DNA, cellphones and computers.

Phillips is already serving a prison sentence for unlawful imprisonment in her disappearance.