(Orange, Texas)

May 1, 2013

Courthouse shooting trial jurors to choose between life, death

Associated Press
The Orange Leader


Testimony opens in the penalty phase of a Houston man's trial in the death of a 79-year-old bystander outsidethe Jefferson County Courthouse last March.

Prosecutors will ask a Galveston County jury to condemn Bartholomew Granger for killing Minnie Ray Sebolt during a shooting rampage in the street outside the courthouse where he was involved in a sexual assault trial involving his daughter.

The jury convicted the 42-year-old Granger of capital murder Tuesday after almost two hours of deliberation. He had admitted that he opened fire on his daughter for testifying against him in the sexual assault case, but he denied shooting Sebolt.

State District Judge Bob Wortham said the trial could last into next week as jurors choose between the death penalty and life imprisonment without parole.

The trial was moved 75 miles from Beaumont to Galveston so jurors wouldn't walk past the crime scene daily.

A Houston man was convicted of capital murder Tuesday in the fatal shooting of a 79-year-old woman outside a Texas courthouse.

Bartholomew Granger, 42, testified in his own defense that he didn’t shoot Minnie Ray Sebolt last March when he opened fire on his daughter outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Beaumont.

The daughter and her mother were among three women who were wounded. Granger took responsibility for his daughter’s injuries that left her in a coma for three months, but he insisted he shot no one else. Sebolt was a bystander.

Jurors returned their guilty verdict after about one hour and 45 minutes of deliberations.

The punishment phase will begin Wednesday. The same jury will hear testimony to decide whether the former truck driver and rapper heads to prison for life without chance of parole or to death row. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The trial was moved 75 miles to Galveston, so jurors didn’t have to walk past the crime scene each day.

From the witness stand Monday, Granger explained how he emptied the 10-bullet magazine of his illegally purchased semi-automatic carbine, saying he fired toward his daughter. Then, when he saw his daughter was still moving while lying in the street, he ran over her with his pickup truck in an attack that was captured on courthouse surveillance video and shown to jurors.

His daughter, her mother and Granger’s estranged wife had testified against him in a trial in which his daughter accused him of sexual assault. He denied that charge.

Prosecutors said he parked outside the courthouse for hours waiting for the women to show, then pounced when he spotted them late in the morning of March 14, 2012. Sebolt also was outside at the time, accompanying a relative to the courthouse.

“I didn’t kill her,” Granger testified. “I didn’t have any more bullets. How could I have killed her?”

Sebolt was shot twice and died in the revolving door at the courthouse entrance.

Prosecutors spent all last week building their case against Granger. His daughter, now 22, was among those who testified.

Under questioning from his own lawyer, Granger recalled in detail how he ran at his daughter and pulling the trigger of his gun. He remembered her falling and crying out, “Daddy, stop!” He then ran over her with the truck.

He abandoned the bullet-riddled truck about three blocks away, walked inside a construction business and took several people hostage. Granger, who at some point was wounded, eventually was overpowered by his captives and police moved in to take him into custody.