, Port Arthur, Texas

April 30, 2013

Defendant apologizes; Courthouse shooting trial resumes

The Associated Press

Galveston — he punishment phase of the capital murder trial for a Houston man convicted of killing a 79-year-old woman during a shooting spree has resumed with an apology from the defendant for an obscenity-filled tirade.

Bartholomew Granger erupted in court Wednesday, a day after he was found guilty of the March 2012 slaying of Minnie Ray Sebolt outside the courthouse in downtown Beaumont.

Granger told Judge Bob Wortham on Thursday he wasn't trying to disrupt the court but reacted to "too much stress and pressure."

Granger faces a possible death sentence.

Previous reporting:

The start of the trial penalty phase for a Houston man convicted of killing a 79-year-old bystander during a shooting rampage outside a courthouse was delayed Wednesday by his angry outbursts.

"Where's the American justice for me!" Bartholomew Granger shouted in a Galveston courtroom a day after jurors convicted him of capital murder in a shooting in which he has admitted his daughter was the intended target. Minnie Ray Sebolt, a Deweyville woman who was escorting a relative to court, was killed.

During a 15-minute tirade Wednesday, Granger addressed the judge, using obscenities. The punishment phase of the trial was about to begin, and jurors were to hear testimony to decide whether Granger should get the death penalty or be sent to prison for life with no chance of parole.

Granger, testifying in his own defense, had admitted that he opened fire on his daughter outside the downtown Beaumont courthouse but insisted he did not kill Sebolt. Granger said he shot his daughter for testifying against him in a sexual assault trial. Granger's daughter and her mother were injured, and the daughter, now 22, spent three months in a coma.

Granger told the judge Wednesday that his daughter, the alleged victim in the sexual assault case, "got what she deserved," repeatedly using epithets to refer to her.

"She's the one who should be dead!" he yelled. "Not the old lady, her!"

Granger also shouted: "Give me liberty or give me ... death. I want it. I'd rather be dead than be in ... custody. You are demons."

His attorneys asked for a delay in the punishment phase. Judge Bob Wortham refused but sent jurors home for the day.

Granger was led from the courtroom by bailiffs.

One of the questions jurors must decide in determining Granger's sentence is whether he would be a future danger.

Wortham had said the punishment phase of the trial could last into next week.

Granger's outburst came as his lawyers asked Wortham to reconsider the defendant's mental competency, saying Granger had been unable to control himself Wednesday. Granger earlier was ruled competent to stand trial.

Granger was convicted Tuesday of capital murder. Evidence showed he opened fire on his daughter and her mother for testifying against him in a sexual assault trial. Minnie Ray Sebolt was caught in the gunfire and killed.

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.