Jury gets case in ex-Kansas lawman's trial

AP News
Posted: Jun 10, 2013 6:35 PM
Jury gets case in ex-Kansas lawman's trial

KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) — Jurors began deliberations Monday in the first-degree murder case against a former Kansas lawman accused of killing his wife and setting their house on fire while their young sons slept down the hall.

Prosecutors in closing arguments Monday portrayed Brett Seacat, 37, as a manipulative man who used his law enforcement background to make it look like his wife shot herself. The defense tried to cast reasonable doubt by repeatedly pointing out that even an experienced coroner couldn't decide whether the death was suicide or homicide.

The prevailing argument will determine whether jurors can reach a verdict on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated arson and two counts of child endangerment in the April 30, 2011 shooting death of 34-year-old Vashti Seacat. Jurors met for a half hour Monday and are expected to resume deliberations Tuesday.

Seacat is a former Sedgwick County deputy who was an instructor at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center when his wife's body was found.

Prosecutors said earlier in their closing arguments that Vashti Seacat wouldn't have endangered the couple's two young sons, ages 2 and 4, by setting fire to the house.

But the defense recounted her history of depression dating back to high school. Seacat's attorney told jurors the evidence, including burns and blisters on his feet, bolstered Seacat's testimony in which he denied shooting his wife, burning their home or endangering their children.