Jury to resume deliberations Tuesday in Brett Seacat murder trial
06/11/2013 7:42 AM
08/08/2014 10:17 AM
KINGMAN — The fate of Brett Seacat is in the hands of jurors, charged with deciding whether the former law enforcement officer is guilty of killing his wife and then setting their Kingman home on fire.
Jurors received the case shortly after 4 p.m. Monday following three hours of closing arguments and 12 days of witness testimony – including a rarely made move by the defense to put the accused on the stand – and presentation of dozens of pieces of evidence in the case.
They adjourned for the day around 5 p.m. and were ordered back to court Tuesday morning to resume deliberations.
Seacat, 37, faces a first-degree murder charge in Vashti Seacat’s death; a count of aggravated arson; and two counts of aggravated child endangerment related to a fire set to the couple’s Kingman house while their sons – then 2 and 4 – slept down the hall. Seacat maintains his wife, depressed and indecisive about the couple’s pending divorce, told him by phone to get the kids out of their house on April 30, 2011, ignited her bedroom, and then shot herself.
Five women and eight men, including alternates, sit on the jury. Kingman County District Court Judge Larry Solomon dismissed two jurors last week for personal medical or family emergencies. One of the 13 remaining – Juror No. 14 – will be sequestered until the 12 finish their deliberations and deliver a verdict.
Attorneys for both sides spent Monday afternoon giving their final oral arguments in front of the jury and a packed gallery. Only standing room remained in the courtroom after court convened at 1 p.m.; several members of both Brett Seacat’s and his wife’s families were present.
Prosecutors spent the first hour of their 90-minute allotment recounting evidence presented since the trial began in late May and asking jurors to “use common sense” when determining whether anyone but Brett Seacat had an interest in setting the house at 255 E. B Ave. ablaze the day his wife, Vashti, died.
Defense attorneys focused on what they called the “four corners” of the case: two notes allegedly written by Vashti – the suicide note and a list of figures including funeral expenses and life insurance costs found in her purse – her depression; her consumption of the hormone HCG, whose side effects include depression; and a coroner’s inability to determined whether Vashti’s death was a homicide or suicide.
The prosecution used its final 30 minutes to refute claims made in the defense’s four-cornered approach and to question the credibility of Seacat and the defense’s expert witnesses.
During his testimony last week, Seacat painted himself as a loving husband and father, while admitting he threatened to expose his wife’s alleged affairs to wreck her career and take away her sons if she divorced him. Prosecutors argued Seacat planned her murder – including forging a suicide note and torching evidence the day before she died – and then tried to cover up the crime. Her friends and family testified Vashti – a Cox Communication employee and mother of two – was happy and making plans to move on with her life.
Jurors will return to court at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.