On the stand, former Kansas lawman says he did not kill his wife

With voice wavering, Brett Seacat on Friday morning told a Kingman County jury that he felt responsible for his wife’s death – not because he pulled the trigger of the gun that discharged the fatal shot but rather because he had threatened to make her lose her job and take away her sons if she went through with a divorce.

Asked whether he told marriage counselor Connie Suderman by phone the morning Vashti Seacat died that he had killed his wife, Brett Seacat said “no.” He added: “I told her, ‘Vashti’s dead. It’s my fault.’ ”

“Why did you tell her that it was your fault?” defense attorney Roger Falk asked of the conversation, which took place while Seacat was at Kingman County’s law enforcement center, located in the same building as the county jail.

“Because it was.”

Seacat bowed his head. He appeared choked up.

Why was it your fault? Falk pressed.

“For 19 years I was the one who protected Vashti, and I finally pushed her into what I was protecting her from,” he replied. “So it was my fault.”

Suderman, who had provided counseling to the couple, testified earlier in the trial that Seacat said, "I killed her. Vashti is dead, and it’s my fault" during that phone conversation the morning Vashti Seacat died.

Seacat, 37, is accused of first-degree murder in his wife’s 2011 shooting death. Prosecutors say he then set fire to their Kingman home to cover up the crime. He was working as an instructor for the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center at the time. He previously worked as a Sedgwick County Sheriff's deputy.

Seacat maintains a depressed Vashti Seacat ignited the blaze on April 30, 2011, then committed suicide in her upstairs bedroom.

During his testimony Friday morning, Seacat said just hours before she died he threatened to expose multiple affairs Vashti Seacat allegedly had with co-workers at Cox Communications and to publish “a great many private photographs of her” to smear her character and cause her to lose her job if she proceeded with a contested divorce.

Seacat also testified he told his wife he would give her a “collaborative divorce” – or uncontested divorce – later that year if she agreed to work on their marriage for three to six months and the attempts failed.

He also testified he told his wife he would never let her see her boys – ages 2 and 4 at the time – again if he got custody of them in their divorce.

“Those were all things that I said if we go to court on a divorce all those things are going to happen,” Seacat said. “I was going to make it impossible for her to fight a divorce because she wouldn’t have a job.”

Court recessed for a morning break around 9:30. Seacat is expected to continue his testimony throughout the day.

Check Kansas.com for periodic updates from the trial throughout the day. Live reporting, including tweeting as court is in session, has been banned by Judge Larry Solomon.