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Jury selection begins in ex-deputy's murder trial

Published on -5/20/2013, 3:12 PM

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KINGMAN, Kan. (AP) -- Jury selection began Monday in the trial of a former sheriff's deputy accused of killing his wife and torching their house.

More than 15 percent of the population of the small central Kansas town of Kingman is expected to be called for the jury pool for Brett Seacat's murder trial, KAKE-TV reported (http://bit.ly/19VYuRH).

Seacat, 37, is charged with one count each of first-degree murder and aggravated arson. He also faces two counts of child endangerment for allegedly setting fire to the house while the couple's two young sons, ages 2 and 4, were sleeping inside.

Jurors are expected to hear conflicting portrayals of the events of April 2011 that ended in the shooting death of Vashti Seacat, who had filed for divorce 16 days earlier. Her charred body was found next to a melted gas container on the remains of her bed, along with a .44-caliber pistol which was under her body.

Seacat had made it out of the house with the two boys.

The jury will have to decide if the death was murder, as the prosecution contends, or whether she set the fire herself and committed suicide, which the defense argues.

Seacat was an instructor at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center at the time. He is also is a former Sedgwick County sheriff's deputy.

Seacat is expected to take the stand in the trial. The judge has ruled he can testify about his wife setting fires in their former homes, although prosecutors say there is no evidence to back up those claims.

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