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Judge Drops Murder Charge Against Dad In Case Of Baby Girl Missing Since 2011

LUDINGTON (WWJ/AP) - It appears there will not be a murder trial in the case of "Baby Kate," who went missing in 2011.

A judge has dismissed a murder charge against a young Michigan man, accused of killing his missing 4 1/2-month-old daughter, Katherine Phillips.

Mason County District Judge Peter Wadel in Ludington threw out the open murder charge Monday against 24-year-old Sean Phillips.

Phillips already is serving 10 to 15 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of the girl widely known as "Baby Kate," in the Lundington area, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Her body remains missing, and the judge says there isn't enough evidence she's dead.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and county Prosecutor Paul Spaniola say they'll appeal the decision. Schuette says "Baby Kate deserves full justice."
Wadel presided over a probable cause hearing for the father that ended July 31.

Phillips' daughter Katherine, a 4-month-old widely known as "Baby Kate," disappeared in June 2011 in the Ludington area, about 80 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Wadel in April called a time-out in the hearing to allow defense experts to examine a letter authorities say links Sean Phillips to his daughter's disappearance. Phillips' handwritten letter to the girl's mother allegedly says the baby was accidentally killed and left in a "peaceful place." [A copy of the letter was obtained by WOOD-TV8. VIEW IT HERE].

Phillips has been imprisoned since 2012, serving a 10 to 15 year sentence after being convicted of unlawful imprisonment for failing to return Katherine to her mother, Ariel Courtland.

Courtland has said Phillips told her that Katherine is still alive, but extensive searches never turned up the girl. Investigators have also tried to find the girl's body by examining seeds and other plant material on Phillips' shoes.

Prosecutors said Phillips took the baby from Courtland because he feared a court-ordered paternity test would show he was the father. Courtland said Phillips wanted to put Katherine up for adoption, but she refused.

Phillips was arrested shortly after the baby's disappearance after, according to court documents, police found what Phillips admitted was Kate's clothing in his shorts pocket.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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