Dateline   |  October 12, 2013

'Burning Suspicion' part 10

Brett takes the stand.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> you may come forward and be sworn, please, sir.

>> it is, call it unusual, for a defendant to testify at his own murder trial. dangerous, his lawyer might advise to subject himself to the aggressive questions of a skilled prosecutor. but --

>> in my heart of hearts i know, it wouldn't have made any difference what they said to brett because brett wanted to testify. he wanted to. he had to. he believed that if people just listened, the truth would out.

>> mr. seacat , will you tell us your full name please.

>> brett theodore seacat .

>> at his own request, no video was taken of him. audio recording only.

>> as brett set out, with confidence, to tell the jury what happened beginning 21 hours or so before the fire.

>> on that morning when i said goodbye, she said see you tonight and actually gave me a big kiss, which i thought was odd.

>> why did you think that was odd?

>> um because in the last week, week and a half, we had been back and forth about 50 times on divorce and so it just let me know that we were back in the not divorce track.

>> by the time he returned to the house that evening, said brett , things had changed.

>>> i couldn't figure out why she was -- she was in a big hurry to get a divorce, which was something that had never happened before . i told her we haven't really worked on our marriage very much. my angle in the discussion was, i'll give you a collaborative divorce if we work on the marriage for three to six months.

>> brett said vashti seemed to agree to that, especially when he made it clear what he would do if she went forward with the divorce right then.

>> basically, i told her, if this goes to court, that that i was going to do everything, everything in my power to destroy her.

>> brett told the jury things he had never told the kbi investigators, that he threatened to share private photos of her and that vashti had several recent affairs, including one with the executive at cox, and that brett threatened to expose her. as for why he didn't tell the kbi earlier about the alleged affairs --

>> i didn't think it was appropriate to be dragging my wife's name through the mud.

>> as it was, brett and his defense team didn't put on any evidence about an affair with the cox executive or with anybody for that matter. then his lawyer finished with the key questions. did you love vashti ?

>> i love vashti .

>> did you kill vashti ?

>> no, i did not.

>> did you pull the trigger on the ruger redhawk that resulted in the bullet going through her neck and severing her spine?

>> no, i did not.

>> so his direct testimony hours of it, seemed to go pretty well. but now, of course, here came the prosecutor to put him on the spot.

>> cross-examination, ms. hanley?

>> she wanted brett to explain, how it was possible for him to do what she thought was impossible, make that 911 call and stay on the phone while trying to get vashti 's body out of a burning house.

>> my wife is upstairs. i'm about to go upstairs and try and get her out.

>> smoke everywhere. just a second.

>> i have to get a wet rag.

>> how he was able to make that call and talk to a dispatcher while he was supposedly running up and down the stairs twice in smoke and fire, wetting a rag, holding on to his phone, how he didn't drop the phone, fall, cough, gasp.

>> turn the water faucet on, grab the discloth.

>> yes, ma'am.

>> you're holding your cell phone , too?

>> i don't think i'm holding it to my ear but it's in my hand.

>> well, you're talking to 911 at this time, right?

>> you're correct. it must have been to my ear. i just don't remember that element of it.

>> and then she asked him about the divorce.

>> vashti wanted the divorce, right?

>> depends on which ten minutes you talked to her.

>> and when she told you that she was thinking about divorce, that's when you would threaten her?

>> i'm sorry?

>> when vashti told you she wanted a divorce, you would threaten her, wouldn't you?

>> no, vashti never -- we talked about divorce a lot. but the first time that i found out vashti wanted a divorce was when she told me that she had filed.

>> and then, then point-blank, she accused him of murder.

>> you threatened to kill vashti , burn the house down and make it look like she committed a suicide.

>> i absolutely have never said anything even remotely like that.

>> you never made that threat to vashti ?

>> absolutely not.

>> you killed your wife, didn't you?

>> no, ma'am.

>> you shot her in the head.

>> impossible.

>> you burnt the house down around her.

>> i would never burn our house.

>> and did you it while your two kids, two years and 4 years old were in the house.

>> absolutely not. i would never expose my children to any situation like that.

>> the investigation was thorough in this case and the kbi agents looked for any sign that would lead us to a different conclusion than that brett seacat killed his wife. and all of the evidence that was uncovered and all the evidence presented at trial by both sides led to that conclusion.

>> vashti 's family was upset about things that brett said on the stand about vashti 's character. but they said they found his testimony revealing.

>> i was almost embarrassed that he was still claiming he was innocent when there were just so many things that would have had to have lined up perfectly that would have had to have been a fluke.

>> but brett 's brother bobby felt the trial only confirmed that he believed.

>> i left that courtroom 100% convinced that he didn't do it.

>> up to the jury now.

>> your head is spinning at that point because you realize this is it. it was scary.