Brett Seacat Trial: Case of Ex-Cop Accused of Killing Wife Goes to the Jury

Prosecutor said Brett Seacat was "controlling, manipulative" husband.

ByABC News
June 10, 2013, 5:37 PM

June 10, 2013— -- The fate of a former Kansas sheriff's deputy accused of killing his wife and setting their house on fire to cover-up the evidence now rests in the hands of a jury after closing arguments were finished today.

A Kingman, Kan., jury met briefly today before going home after a full day of listening to closing arguments in the trial of Brett Seacat, a 37-year-old former Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy. Jury deliberations are expected to resume on Tuesday.

Seacat is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated arson and two counts of child endangerment.

Prosecutor Amy Hanley told jurors today that Seacat was a "controlling, manipulative" husband who relied on his law enforcement background to stage the crime scene to make it look as though his wife, Vashti Seacat, had killed herself in April 2011, just two days after she served him with divorce papers.

Hanley called Brett Seacat "a little reckless" and said he needed the fire to destroy evidence at the crime scene.

"He banked on that fire," she said.

The defense presented a contrasting story of a woman who had battled depression since high school and set her home on fire before taking her own life.

Roger Falk, Seacat's attorney, told the jury today that after months of reviewing police reports and crime scene photos, even the coroner had "reasonable doubt" that the mother of two young boys was murdered.

"Someone with over 3,000 autopsies under their belt sat here and told you, based upon all of their experience and training, 'I can't tell if this is suicide or homicide,'" Falk said.

Seacat Defends Himself at Trial

Seacat's behavior around the time of his wife's death, including the destruction of hard drives and old cell phones, has been a key element in the prosecution's case.

However, Seacat took the stand last Thursday to explain his actions.

"That's what you're supposed to do with hard drives. If you leave a hard drive in the trash, most identity thieves would not have any problem at all accessing the hard drive in some form or another," Seacat said.

As for the discarded cellphones prosecutors found in the trash of his Kansas office, Seacat said that he was simply trying to protect his identity.

"Websites that said, 'Don't sell your old cellphones,' said, 'Destroy them,'" he said.

Prosecutors said Vashti Seacat wouldn't have put the lives of her two sons in jeopardy by setting the house on fire, while the defense said Brett Seacat wouldn't have risked his boy's lives by starting a blaze.

It will be up to the jury to determine which argument will prevail and whether Seacat could spend the rest of his life in prison.

ABC News' Adam Sechrist, Gio Benitez and Paula Faris contributed to this report.