Thursday, May 23, 2013
A total of four witnesses have been called to the stand to testify in the murder trial of Brett Seacat in Kingman. Seacat, the former Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy and Kansas law enforcement instructor is charged with first degree murder in the death of his wife, Vashti Forrest-Seacat.
Jurors saw a video shot on a cell phone by a man named Shawn Harbert, who happened to be walking in the neighborhood when the fire broke out on the night of April 30, 2011.
Harbert initially ran to the back door of the home when he realized there was a fire. He testified he was attempting to find out if anyone was inside. A police officer quickly arrived and ordered him to get away.
The jurors watched as Harbert's video showed what appeared to be a small fire explode into a massive wall of flames over an entire wall of the home. From then on, flames raged out of control and audible 'whoofs' could be heard. Twice during the video, two loud bangs can be heard.
Earlier, Kingman PD Sgt. Travis Sowers said he heard those bangs and thought it was likely ammunition exploding inside, but defense attorneys are clearly trying to set in the jurors mind that the bangs could have been gunshots from Vashti shooting herself.
Prosecutors have said they will introduce crime scene photos that show Vashti's charred body laying on her upstairs bed with the gun underneath her. They contend there's no way the weapon could have come to rest underneath her if she did, in fact, kill herself.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
The murder trial against an ex-sheriff's deputy and Kansas law enforcement instructor continued Thursday with Sgt. Travis Sowers on the stand. Sowers was the first police officer on the scene after Brett Seacat called 911 on the night of April 30, 2011.
Wednesday, Sowers testified that he raced to the Seacat home and was met with a shirtless Brett Seacat on the front lawn. Sowers' patrol car dash cam identified that Seacat told Sowers that the house was on fire and that his wife Vashti was still inside.
"She's dead," Brett calmly tells Sowers. "She shot herself. Her (expletive) head is gone."
Seacat's lead defense attorney, Roger Falk, is zeroing in on the statements Sowers made to Kingman Fire Chief Steve Drosselmeyer as the house quickly went up in flames, and whether or not he prepared a "full, fair, accurate and complete" report.
Falk noted that some of the statements Sowers had with the fire chief were not included in his written report. Those statements included discussion about where Vashti Forrest-Seacat's body might be inside the engulfed house.
Amid prosecution objections, Falk also questioned Sowers on law enforcement's belief from the very beginning that Brett Seacat killed his wife and set fire to the house.
"In fact, you told Drosselmeyer that you felt 'he smoked her and set the house on fire,' didn't you?" Falk asked.
Sowers said he didn't recall specifically saying that, but that it was possible.
Prosecutors allege exactly that, and that Seacat formed a plan and carried it out in the days after his wife filed for divorce. The trial is expected to last a couple of weeks. Seacat is charged with first degree murder, aggravated arson and aggravated child endangerment.