Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Brett Seacat was back in court for a motions hearing in Kingman County this morning. The former Sedgwick County deputy and law enforcement instructor is charged with murdering his wife and burning down their home just two weeks after Vashti Forrest-Seacat filed for divorce.
Seacat's defense is requesting that Judge Larry Solomon allow individual questioning of every potential juror, a task that would be huge, considering that 625 prospective jurors will be called to the courthouse.
"Given the fact that it will be two years when the case is actually tried," argued defense attorney Roger Falk, "I'm sure it will have been the topic of conversations at the coffee shop and beauty shop, as well as being pervasive in the news media."
Normally, potential trial jurors are questioned in groups, but Falk believes normal group questioning would further taint what he calls an already tainted jury pool.
The state responded by saying the request is unnecessary.
"The question of 'Have you heard?' is already on the private questionnaire that each potential juror will receive," argued Prosecutor Amy Hanley. "Questioning will also be done is small panels so the entire jury pool won't be tainted. It's also incumbant upon counsel to not be asking questions that solicit the kind of answers that would taint the whole panel."
Prosecutors allege Brett Seacat shot his wife and then set their Kingman home on fire. He and the couple's children made it out safely before firefighters arrived.
Seacat's trial is currently scheduled for May. Citizens will begin reporting to the Kingman County Courthouse on April 9 to fill out a paper questionnaire. A routine pre-trial motions hearing is scheduled for April 24.