UPDATE: Tuesday, June, 11, 2013
A Kingman County jury has found Brett Seacat guilty of first-degree murder in the April 2011 death of his wife, Vashti.
"It was a very emotional moment," said Rich Forrest, Vashti's brother.
The jury also convicted Brett Seacat of aggravated arson and two counts of aggravated child endangerment. The jury deliberated for about six hours before reaching its decision.
"There was never any doubt in our mind that we thought he was guilty and we feel like justice has been served," Vashti's mother, Julie Hostetler, said.
The state prosecutor said he will seek the 'Hard 50' sentence. That will require a separate hearing for attorneys to present any aggravating and mitigating factors.
A hearing has been set for August 5.
Vashti's family says the past 12 days of testimony from some 30 witnesses were like an emotional roller coaster.
"It was almost like the inside of you is turning in knots and you just want to scream," said Sydney Woodside, Vashti's niece. "There were a couple points there you just want to scream out loud and you can't. we would just scribble and pass notes because that's the only way we could vent it was horrible."
Many of Vashti's family members say after the verdict was read, it was like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders.
"I don't think there's words," Woodside said. "I was ready for it to be over. It's been 2 years, 2 plus years, and now finally there's an end."
They say there are no true winners in this case but they're glad the jury has cleared Vashti's name and shown they did not buy into the defense's claim Vashti committed suicide.
"Just relieved that all the things leveled against my sister, that a jury of twelve heard it and they didn't believe it."
The jurors were given the option of speaking to the media, but none of them decided to make a statement. The defense also did not speak to reporters on camera.
But the team of prosecutors did gather outside the Kingman County Courthouse following the verdict.
"I know this verdict can not erase the pain that the family has been through but hopefully this verdict will help them move forward," Kingman County Attorney Matthew Ricke said.
Vashti's family members say both families will now try to move forward. Vashti's mother says she hopes people don't forget the Seacat family is also hurting and says she hopes people come them in their prayers.
Hostetler says her family will try to move on by focusing on the two little boys now left without parents.
"They give us hope. They keep us going. They bring great joy into our lives," Hostetler said. "We put them first in everything that we do."
UPDATE: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Jurors have reached a verdict in the murder trial of former law enforcement officer and instructor Brett Seacat. The verdict will be read in court in the next few minutes.
The fate of a Kingman man accused of murdering his wife two years ago is now in the hands of 12 jurors. Former sheriff's deputy Brett Seacat is on trial for the April, 2011, death of his wife, Vashti Forrest-Seacat.
Brett's defense hinges on several key points, according to his defense attorneys. They say Vashti was depressed in the days leading up to her filing for divorce and that a weight loss supplement she was taking caused her depression to become more severe. Lastly, the defense says an inconclusive autopsy report should provide reasonable doubt for jurors to acquit Seacat of all charges.
The prosecution, however, says Seacat carried out a sinister plan over two days as soon as he was served with divorce papers. They allege that he planted all of the evidence, including a cell phone that was discovered underneath his wife's charred body. The suicide note, they say, was forged using an overhead projector.
Jurors have been listening intently to all of the evidence presented over the course of the last two days. They received the case this morning after final testimony from Brett Seacat himself.
Stay tuned to KAKE News and kake.com for the latest updates.