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Father of Michigan baby wrote mother he killed her by accident, left body in 'peaceful place'

  • Missing-Baby-Michigan

    Judge Peter J. Wadel holds up a piece of evidence during the preliminary examination for Sean Phillips in Mason County's 79th District Court in Ludington, Mich., Thursday, April 3, 2014. Phillips is charged with open murder of his daughter, Katherine 'Baby Kate' Phillips and is accused by authorities of killing his 4-month old daughter on June 29, 2011. Phillips was convicted on April 27, 2012 of unlawful imprisonment of his daughter. The baby has not been found. (AP Photo/The Muskegon Chronicle, Ken Stevens)

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  • Missing-Baby-Michigan-Ariel-Courtland

    Ariel Courtland.

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  • Missing-Baby-Michigan-Sean-Phillips

    Sean Phillips.

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  • Missing-Baby-Michigan-3

    Ariel Courtland identifies Sean Phillips during her testimony at the preliminary examination for Sean Phillips in Mason County's 79th District Court in Ludington, Mich., before Judge Peter J. Wadel on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Phillips is charged with murder in the disappearance of his infant daughter Katherine Phillips, a 4 ½-month-old known as "Baby Kate." She hasn't been seen since 2011. Phillips has been in prison since 2012 for a crime related to the case. He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for unlawful imprisonment for failing to return the child to her mother. (AP Photo/The Muskegon Chronicle, Ken Stevens)

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  • Missing-Baby-Michigan-4

    From left, John Smietanka, Sean Phillips, Gene Debbaudt and attorney David Glancy are sit prior to the start of Phillips' preliminary examination in Mason County's 79th District Court in Ludington, Mich., before Judge Peter J. Wadel on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Phillips is charged with murder in the disappearance of his infant daughter Katherine Phillips, a 4 ½-month-old known as "Baby Kate." She hasn't been seen since 2011. Phillips has been in prison since 2012 for a crime related to the case. He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for unlawful imprisonment for failing to return the child to her mother. (AP Photo/The Muskegon Chronicle, Ken Stevens)

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  • Missing-Baby-Michigan-5

    Ariel Courtland looks at the clothes she last saw her missing daughter wear during testimony at the preliminary examination for Sean Phillips in Mason County's 79th District Court in Ludington, Mich., before Judge Peter J. Wadel on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Phillips is charged with murder in the disappearance of his infant daughter Katherine Phillips, a 4 ½-month-old known as "Baby Kate." She hasn't been seen since 2011. Phillips has been in prison since 2012 for a crime related to the case. He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for unlawful imprisonment for failing to return the child to her mother. (AP Photo/The Muskegon Chronicle, Ken Stevens)

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  • Missing-Baby-Michigan-6

    Sean Phillips sits during the start of his preliminary examination in Mason County's 79th District Court in Ludington, Mich., before Judge Peter J. Wadel on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Phillips is charged with murder in the disappearance of his infant daughter Katherine Phillips, a 4 ½-month-old known as "Baby Kate." She hasn't been seen since 2011. Phillips has been in prison since 2012 for a crime related to the case. He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for unlawful imprisonment for failing to return the child to her mother. (AP Photo/The Muskegon Chronicle, Ken Stevens)

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  • Missing-Baby-Michigan-7

    Ariel Courtland cries during her testimony at the preliminary examination for Sean Phillips in Mason County's 79th District Court in Ludington, Mich., before Judge Peter J. Wadel on Thursday, April 3, 2014. Phillips is charged with murder in the disappearance of his infant daughter Katherine Phillips, a 4 ½-month-old known as "Baby Kate." She hasn't been seen since 2011. Phillips has been in prison since 2012 for a crime related to the case. He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for unlawful imprisonment for failing to return the child to her mother. (AP Photo/The Muskegon Chronicle, Ken Stevens)

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Missing-Baby-Michigan-Ariel-Courtland

Ariel Courtland.

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LUDINGTON, Mich. — Authorities say a man wrote a letter to the mother of their baby, telling her he accidentally killed the 4 ½-month-old girl and left the body in a “peaceful place.”

Missing-Baby-Michigan-Sean-Phillips

Sean Phillips.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

The evidence came out today on the first day of a hearing to decide if 24-year-old Sean M. Phillips should stand trial on an open murder charge in Mason County Circuit Court in Ludington.

Authorities say he killed Katherine Phillips in 2011, but they’ve never found her body.

Sean Phillips already is serving 10-15 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment in the girl’s disappearance.

Authorities say he wrote the letter from prison in 2012 to the baby’s mother, Ariel Courtland.

Courtland was Thursday’s first witness, talking about the last time she saw her daughter.

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