Kansas deputy sentenced to life for wife’s murder

08/05/2013 6:51 PM

08/05/2013 6:51 PM

Former Sedgwick County sheriff’s Deputy Brett Seacat was sentenced Monday to life plus 6 years and 3 months in prison for murdering his wife and setting his house on fire with his two young children inside.

The sentence, the maximum allowed under Kansas law, will make him eligible for parole in about 30 years.

Seacat, 37, was convicted June 11 of first-degree murder, aggravated arson and two counts of child endangerment, all linked to the April 30, 2011, death of 34-year-old Vashti Seacat and a fire that destroyed the couple’s house. It started while their sons, then 2 and 4, were inside.

The defense contended that Vashti Seacat committed suicide. At his trial, Seacat testified that he had been sleeping on the couch and rescued the boys after receiving a disturbing call on his cellphone from his wife, who was in an upstairs bedroom. being awakened by his wife’s call from an upstairs bedroom. He said the house was on fire and she was dead when he went upstairs.

During his sentencing hearing, several of Vashti Seacat’s relatives urged Kingman County District Judge Larry Solomon to impose the maximum sentence.

Seacat, speaking in his own behalf, denied killing his wife and during a rambling 15-minute speech accused the judge and Vashti Seacat’s relatives of using her death for their own benefit.

He said the family stood to gain financially from his conviction.

“With Vashti committing suicide, they get no money,” he said. “With Vashti murdered, they do.”

He then turned his attention to Solomon.

“Go ahead and pass a sentence you think will get you the big headlines,” he said. “Go ahead and pass a sentence you think will get you a spot on the Kansas Supreme Court.”

He also addressed allegations from Vashti Seacat’s relatives who said he was arrogant, and that he used his law enforcement experience to try to cover up his crime.

“I teach about crime,” he said. “I know what covers up a crime and what doesn’t. I wouldn’t have lit a fire to try to cover this up.”

At the end of the hearing, Solomon labeled Seacat’s allegations “so bizarre they don’t deserve a response.”

“They merely affirm to me that 12 Kingman County citizens made the appropriate decision in this case,” he said.

Prosecutors had asked for the Hard 50 — life without parole for 50 years — on the murder charge but later withdrew the request after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that they said invalidates the basis of the Hard 50 law.

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