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Seacat's trial expected to start this afternoon

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May 21, 2013|by Anne Meyer | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
  • Brett T. Seacat listens as a potential juror is questioned on day one of jury selection in the State v. Brett T. Seacat trial on Monday, May 20, 2013, in Kingman, Kan. Seacat is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated arson in the shooting death of his wife, 34-year-old Vashti Seacat. He is seated beside defense attorney John Val Wachtel. (Lindsey Bauman/The Hutchinson News)
Brett T. Seacat listens as a potential juror is questioned on day one of jury selection in the State v. Brett T. Seacat trial on Monday, May 20, 2013, in Kingman, Kan. Seacat is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated arson in the shooting death of his wife, 34-year-old Vashti Seacat. He is seated beside defense attorney John Val Wachtel. (Lindsey Bauman/The Hutchinson News)

(KINGMAN COUNTY, Kan.) — Jury selection is almost complete for the trial of a Kingman man accused of killing his wife.  Brett Seacat's trial is expected to start with opening statements this afternoon.

Seacat, a former law enforcement instructor, is charged with murdering Vashti Seacat.  Her burned body was found among the charred remains of the couple's Kingman County home in April of 2011.

Once the trial begins, Eyewitness News plans to provide a live stream of the court proceedings.  A court order prohibits us from live blogging, so we will provide updates on our website during court breaks.

624 people in Kingman county received an 11 page juror questionnaire.  They were divided into groups of 24 to be individually questioned in court.  Some have already been excused from duty.

The prosecution and defense asked potential jurors if they already have opinions about the case and whether they can put those opinions aside if they are selected as jurors.

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The judge told potential jurors who are farmers that the up-coming harvest will not be a reason to get out of jury duty. He talked to the county extension agent, who says fields in that area will not be ready to harvest until after the trial is over.

Both sides selected 45-50 potential jurors.  From that group, 12 jurors and three alternates will be chosen to hear the case.

Once the trial does begin, Seacat is expected to take the stand. 

Last week, the judge made some final decisions on what jurors will be allowed to see and hear about at trial.

Per the judge's rulings:

Seacat can testify about Vashti allegedly setting fires in their former homes, even though the state argued those alleged fires are irrelevant.

The defense didn't want to show crime scene photo of Vashti.  But prosecutors say the picture of her gunshot wound is a key piece of evidence.   They say it shows the mother of two could not have set the fire and then committed suicide. The judge said he will also allow autopsy photos at the trial, even though he called the evidence "gruesome."

Seacat has pleaded not guilty. 

Watch for live streaming video as soon as the trial begins here at www.kwch.com.

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