LUDINGTON, Mich. (WOOD) - The jury in the case against a man accused in the disappearance of Baby Kate started deliberations late Thursday. Earlier in the day, lawyers made their final arguments.
Sean Phillips faces a possible 15 years in prison if convicted of unlawful imprisonment in the disappearance of his daughter Katherine Phillips, who went missing in the summer of 2011.
The trial stretched nearly two full weeks. The prosecution called witnesses for most of that time, the defense spending only a few hours on Thursday calling its witnesses.
Tempers were hot at times, particularly as Kate's mother Ariel Courtland spent a day and a half on the stand at the beginning of the trial and again when the defense called her back to the witness stand. All the while, the defense tried to discredit her and blame her for the disappearance.
And now, after hours and hours of testimony and months of searching and questions, there may be a verdict in the case as soon as Friday.
Thursday, there was an air of angst in Ludington that was 10 months in the making -- ever since someone last saw Baby Kate last June.
Area residents want answers -- and someone held accountable.
Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola argued Sean Phillips didn't want another child, or for his parents to find out.
"The defendant had motive, opportunity, and ability," Spaniola told the jury in his closing argument.
Spaniola said the inability to trace Phillips' whereabouts the day Kate went missing shows he was hiding something.
More proff, he said, comes from the shoes Phillips changed out of.
"The science on the shoes shows that he went somewhere that we don't know about," said Spaniola.
Defense attorney Annette Smedley countered that the prosecution's case was thin and relied on an unstable mother.
"Ariel sat in his office and told him that she wished the baby wasn't born," said Smedley.
She said an incomplete police investigation that only focused on one person.
"The detectives, they already had it," said Smedley. There was no question. Just how are we going to get them to say it?"
With such high stress in this case, a presentation can turn to aggravation in seconds.
During his rebuttal, Spaniola said that many still want to know where Baby Kate is. Smedley objected, saying it doesn't matter what people want. She said Spaniola was misleading the jury.
"Absolutely not am I misleading the jury," Spaniola shot back.
The judge called for a recess and Spaniola later apologized.
But his are the only feels that ran high during the trial.
And now, a town that has searched for months and waited for answers could have a verdict before the next sunset.
All the while, the search for Baby Kate has turned up nothing.
Is tonight the night? Maybe it's tomorrow. Or even Sunday.
Two other people, who were inside the residence at the time, escaped safely.
A professor who participated in the anti-apartheid movement said Nelson Mandela taught the importance of struggle and sacrifice.