LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of Baby Kate says they never wanted the case to come to a murder trial, but wanted prosecutors to make a deal with Sean Phillips in hopes he would tell authorities where she is.
In the home of Katherine Phillips’ mother, the reminder is constant. She keeps photos of Kate on the back of her front door. While Friday’s verdict marks the nearing of an end to the justice process for Phillips, for Kate’s it’s not over.
Four-month-old Katherine, who became known as Baby Kate after she vanished in June 2011, was last seen alive with her father in Ludington. Her remains have not been found.
“The family was looking for closure and we aren’t going to get that still,” Katherine’s grandfather, Tim Brewer told 24 Hour News 8 after the verdict was rendered Friday.
Brewer wears his reminder on his neck where he has a tattoo bearing Kate’s name, the date she was born, and the date she disappeared. He was in the courtroom as the verdict came down that the jury found Phillips guilty of second-degree murder.
He says the conviction was harsh.
“I was shocked at the second-degree murder verdict because I thought he would get hit with a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter,” Brewer said. “I don’t dictate a jury and the justice system we have to believe in. They are going to have to decide now.”
The case has gone on for five years now, but still Kate’s loved ones seem no closer to the ultimate answer in this case than they were the day Kate disappeared.
“You can say it’s justice, but it’s really not because we don’t know where Kate is at,” Brewer said.
Phillips faces a maximum sentence of life in prison though he could get a lesser term. The jury convicted him of the highest charge available to them. First degree murder was taken off the table when the judge acquitted Phillips of that charge before the case went to the jury.
The family says they are not celebrating Friday’s verdict.
“There is nothing to celebrate,” Brewer told 24 Hour News 8. “It would have been a celebration if I could have told you, right now, where my granddaughter is at and at least get my daughter the closure that she needs.”
The family is still holding out hope that one day they will finally get those answers.