On Monday, more than two years after his wifes death, Brett Seacat will hear her family and friends and likely his own plead with a judge to impose a reasonable prison term.
Vashti Seacats brother says he plans to ask for the maximum sentence allowable under law for his sisters death.
The arson, the child endangerment and a murder the combination of all those things is very indicative of someone that needs to be behind bars as long as we can keep them behind bars, Rich Forrest said.
Others, however, are expected to ask for leniency before a sentence is handed down.
Brett Seacat, a former law enforcement officer and police instructor, faces sentencing Monday in the first-degree murder of 34-year-old Vashti Seacat, who was fatally shot in her bedroom in April 2011. A Kingman County jury convicted Seacat of the charge in June, as well as aggravated arson and two counts of child endangerment connected to her death.
Under state law, Seacat faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison on the murder charge and will not be eligible for parole for at least 25 years. He also faces a presumptive prison term of 147 to 165 months more than 12 years on the arson charge, his attorney said Friday, and 31 to 34 months for each count of endangerment. The sentences may be imposed concurrently or consecutively.
If given credit for the two years he has served while awaiting trial, Seacat now 37 will be at least 60 before he is eligible for parole.
Seacat, his attorney said, continues to maintain his innocence.
I really dont know what to expect during the sentencing, said defense attorney Roger Falk, who has represented Seacat for the duration of his case.
"Regardless of what happens (on Monday), Mr. Seacat will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison unless he is successful upon appeal.
The crime and trial
After weighing 12 days of witness testimony and dozens of pieces of evidence including the revolver that discharged the fatal shot and a suicide note prosecutors say Brett Seacat forged jurors handed down the guilty verdict. It took just six hours of deliberations.
Prosecutors argued during the trial that in the days before Vashti Seacats death, her husband plotted to kill her after she filed for divorce. The night she died, they maintained, he shot her while she slept then set the house afire while their young sons were inside to cover up the crime.
Brett Seacat, however, testified at trial that a depressed Vashti Seacat pleaded with him by phone that night to get the boys out of the house, then ignited the blaze and committed suicide in her upstairs bedroom.
Following his conviction, prosecutors asked for the Hard 50 life without parole for 50 years on the murder charge. But two days after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling many think invalidates the states Hard 50 law, the Attorney Generals Office withdrew its request.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt wrote in the June 19 filing that after reviewing the high courts decision, the state does not believe the procedural and factual posture of this case allow for the application of (the Hard 50 law) in its current form.
The high courts ruling said juries, not judges, were responsible for weighing facts the of a trial that may justify increasing minimum sentences.
Were disappointed and apprehensive that the Hard 50 (sentence) has been taken off the table, Vashtis brother, Rich Forrest, said when asked to share his feelings about Mondays hearing. He said he and other family members plan to address the judge during Mondays proceedings.
We hope that he sees fit to impose the maximum sentence, Forrest said.
Efforts to reach Brett Seacats parents for comment were unsuccessful.
Assistant Attorney General Amy Hanley, one of four prosecutors in the case, declined to comment on Mondays proceeding until Seacats sentence was imposed.
Falk said he plans to file Seacats notice of appeal following Mondays sentencing. It could be years, Falk said, before the former law enforcement officer knows whether he will be granted a new trial.
Two years, at minimum, Falk said cautiously. He noted that extensions are often granted in appellate court.
I certainly wouldnt advise Mr. Seacat to stop the appeals in this case until such time that hes released, Falk said.
He added: On a case where youre looking at spending the rest of your life in prison, theres no reason not to seek some relief.