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Monday, July 28, 2014

Pretrial arguments this week in Brett Seacat’s murder trial

By Amy Renee Leiker
The Wichita Eagle

A former sheriff’s deputy accused of killing his wife and setting fire to their Kingman house is scheduled to appear in court again this week.

A Kingman County judge will begin hearing pretrial arguments Tuesday in the case of Brett Seacat, charged with first-degree murder in the April 2011 death of his wife, 34-year-old Vashti Seacat. Prosecutors allege Seacat shot his wife before setting fire to her upstairs bedroom while their two young sons — ages 2 and 4 — slept down the hall.

Seacat, 36, is also charged with one count of aggravated arson and two counts of aggravated endangering a child. He pleaded not guilty to all charges in January.

At the hearing, set for Tuesday and Wednesday, a judge will consider more than 20 motions, said Ron Keefover, spokesman for the Office of Judicial Administration. Pretrial motions can include such things as challenges to investigative techniques by authorities, or requests to suppress evidence. Specific information on motions to be argued this week was not available late last week.

Brett Seacat’s defense claims Vashti Seacat committed suicide on April 30, 2011, citing — among other arguments — inconclusive autopsy findings. Last November, a coroner said she could not rule whether Vashti Seacat’s death was a homicide or suicide because of severe heat damage to her body.

Investigators found Vashti Seacat’s charred body on the remains of her bed next to a melted gasoline can. They also found a .44-caliber pistol under her body.

Vashti Seacat, who worked for Cox Communications in Wichita, had filed for divorce 16 days before her death. Brett Seacat was still living in the home the morning his wife died.

Brett Seacat’s trial is set for Aug. 20 in Kingman. He is currently being held in Kingman County Jail on $1 million bond.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com.

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