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Granger outburst in court
GALVESTON - KFDM reporter Megan Dillard says convicted capital murderer Bartholomew Granger could be heard screaming before he was brought into the courtroom Wednesday morning for the punishment phase and then went on a 15 minute tirade before Judge Bob Wortham released the jury for the day.
Watch KFDM News for Megan Dillard's live reports from Galveston and stay with kfdm.com for updates.
Megan reports that Judge Bob Wortham was asking questions to determine whether Granger is competent to stand trial. Judge Wortham believes Granger is competent to move forward. He says Granger was being negative and was unwilling to cooperate.
Megan reports she could hear Granger saying, "For what? To find me guilty? You ------- lied to me. It's a conspiracy."
When Granger was brought into court at about 9 a.m., Judge Bob Wortham let him speak. Granger spent about 15 minutes hollering at the judge and others in the courtroom, complaining that his case wasn't handled fairly, including his capital murder trial and earlier sexual assault trial.
The defense asked for a continuance, telling Judge Wortham that Granger was unable to continue. Prosecutors said he wasn't unable, simply unwilling. The judge didn't agree to the continuance but released the jury until Thursday. He didn't say why but defense attorneys had asked for a competency hearing.
During the punishment phase that began Wednesday, jurors will decide if Granger receives the death penalty or an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Tuesday the jury in Galveston deliberated for less than two hours before convicted him of capital murder in the shooting death of 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt outside the Jefferson County Courthouse on March 14, 2012. Granger also shot his daughter and ran over her, and he shot her mother and another woman. Prosecutors say Granger was mad at his daughter and her mother's testimony against him in his aggravated sexual assault trial that was underway at the time of the shooting.
Link to reporter Megan Dillard's notes on the outburst: http://www.kfdm.com/shared/news/top-stories/stories/kfdm_vid_4758.shtml (Warning for graphic language.)
(Tuesday report) GALVESTON - by Megan Dillard
A Southeast Texas woman and her family are celebrating tonight after a jury convicted the man responsible for her mother's death.
This afternoon a group of nine women and three men found Bartholomew Granger guilty of capital murder.
The jury convicted Granger of killing 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt during a shooting rampage at the Jefferson County Courthouse March 14, 2012.
Investigators say Granger shot Sebolt in a flurry of bullets intended for his daughter and her mother. The pair had testified against Granger in an aggravated sexual assault trial that was going on at that time.
Judge Bob Wortham moved the trial to Galveston.
It took the jury about an hour to come back with a guilty verdict. The defendent didn't react to the conviction but he winked at prosecutors as bailiffs escorted him out of the courtroom.
KFDM News spoke with Deborah Holst, the victim's daughter. She had nothing but huge smiles and hugs to pass out after the verdict was read.
"Yahoo baby, you did it! I couldn't thank them enough."
Nothing but gratitude for the prosecutor and overwhelming relief.
"This is the best feeling I've had in over a year and a half. We got the verdict."
Deborah Holst was beaming this afternoon after a jury convicted the man who shot and killed her mother.
"Me, my children, my grandchildren, and Ms. Hollingsworth. We prayed to God that we would get the answer that He would give us and it has happened."
She's prayed more than a year for a guilty verdict in the capital murder case, ever since the shooting March 14, 2012.
A faith she learned from her mother.
"She believed everything would work out the way it's supposed to."
Holst has watched Granger walk in and out of the courtroom for days.
He didn't react to the verdict, though he did wink at prosecutors on his way out of the courtroom.
"I think he's an arrogant SOB. The whole time he was smiling and trying to stare down our prosecutors and stuff. I mean, what's he think that's going to do? That's not going to do anything. It's not going to change the verdict."
A verdict these attorneys fought hard to secure.
"They did their best and I think they made the greatest impact."
An impact Holst hopes will stay with the jury long enough to allow them to decide on the punishment she says Granger deserves.
"I don't think that they could have any doubt that he needs to be on death row and that he needs to get the needle."
So while she rests easier tonight before the punishment phase begins, she remembers the woman Bartholomew Granger stole from her life.
"Mom, you're avenged and we love you."
The punishment phase begins Wednesday. Granger faces the death penalty or an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole.
The death penalty is what Deborah Holst says she and her family are praying for.
(Earlier report) A Galveston County jury has convicted Bartholomew Granger of capital murder in the shooting death of 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt outside the Jefferson County Courthouse last year.
KFDM reporter Megan Dillard is covering the trial. Watch KFDM for live reports and stay with kfdm.com for updates.
Megan reports Granger, 42, showed no emotion but winked at prosecutors when bailiffs escorted him out of the courthroom following the verdict.
The jury returned with the verdict shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday after listening to about one hour of closing arguments that ended at 11 a.m.
The next step is the punishment phase which begins Wednesday at 9 a.m. The defense expects to present witnesses Thursday in its effort to avoid the death penalty. Both sides expect to wrap up the punishment phase Monday or Tuesday. The jury will decide whether Granger should receive the death penalty or an automatic life sentence.
The defense requested that jurors be allowed to consider a murder charge, which would not include the possibility of the death penalty. Prosecutors objected and Judge Bob Wortham denied the request.
This morning defense attorneys addressed the jury during closing arguments. James Makin told the jury not to jump to conclusions. He told them, "You decide what's beyond a reasonable doubt." Makin then said, "We believe the government has failed to prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Granger fired the bullet that hit Miss Sebolt and caused her death."
Defense attorney Sonny Cribbs also addressed the jury. He told them Granger "might be guilty of murder but he's not guilty of capital murder."
Prosecutors also addressed the jury. Prosecutor Pat Knauth said, "What happened on that day was wrong. What happened to that family was wrong. To the people of our county it was wrong. And he (Granger) needs to be held accountable for that."
Lead prosecutor Ed Shettle told the jury Granger is an "evil creature" who "wants to spit in your eyes too but getting up here and lying repeatedly."
The jury started deliberations shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday. A few minutes later the group requested video surveillance and all photographs.
Defense attorneys called eight witnesses Monday in the capital murder trial. Their first witness was the defendant. Below are statements Granger made during his testimony.
The defendent said he doesn't remember everything about March 14, 2012. This is how he described that day.
"I pulled the trigger. She [his daughter] fell down and I fell down.
She said, 'Daddy, please stop. I'll tell the truth [referring to her testimony against him in his aggravated sexual assault case]. I'll tell them.' I pulled the trigger again. I pulled again. I stood up.' When I tried to pull it again there was no more bullets. I thought to myself, 'Man, I really messed up.' I was thinking I was going to hit Claudia [the mother of his daughter] with my truck. I remember getting shot in the back by some cops. I remember thinking they came so quickly. I remember a cop truck on the right and a car coming from the left. Everything just slowed down. It seemed fast but it was slow. I was looking at Claudia. I was thinking I was going to hit her with this truck. I saw Sam [his daughter] moving like the was getting up. I thought, 'All those times I shot her I didn't even hit her.' I pushed down on the gas accelerator. I fixed the truck toward Sam. I closed my eyes and I hit her. I remember that. I remember the shooting."
He said after the shooting he only saw a woman who was shot in the hand, and Claudia, his daughter's mother. He said, "I didn't have no more bullets. That's why I ran to my truck. I'm very sorry I hit Sam. It's horrible. It's hard to explain. I had mixed feelings. I wanted her to tell the truth. It's weird. My mind was going in different directions."
Referring to his aggravated sexual assault case that was underway at that time, he said, "I was angry. I was really angry. I hear what they say. You're presumed innocent? But everyone kept telling me 'we know you did this.'"
Prosecutor Ed Shettle then cross-examined Granger. Granger directed these comments to the courtroom.
"Just imagine how you'd feel if someone lied on you because they don't like you. All of a sudden, people tell you you're a rapist. I'm fighting a losing battle. Everyone automatically assuming I did it. He gotta be guilty. But does everyone know I don't have a criminal record? I stayed out of trouble my whole life. And for what."
Shettle and Granger then had this exchange:
Shettle: "You didn't kill that lady right there? You did that, didn't you. Did you kill that little old lady?"
Granger: "No I did not. Probably the Beaumont Police. They probably shot her."
Shettle: "Did the cops use this gun to kill Miss Sebolt?"
Granger: "I had that gun. I don't remember bringing it to Beaumont."
Shettle: "That's a convenient answer."
Granger: "You say it's really convenient for me? What does that mean? Why is it people automatically assume I'm lying?"
Shettle: "You're a murdering son of a -----, that's why."
Granger: "Why do you have so much hostility toward me? What did I do to you?"
Shettle: "That little old lady bled to death because you killed her. That's why there's so much animosity in me."
Granger: "I didn't kill her. I didn't have any more bullets."
Granger testified he got his rifle from a drug dealer.
"I knew someone who sells heat, an acquaintance. He deals in drugs and guns and stuff like that."
After Shettle asked Judge Bob Wortham to make Granger answer his question regarding the dealer's name, Granger said, "His name is Reg. I don't know his last name. He's an MS-13 member."
He also explained he and his brother have a musical rap group. Shettle asked him about the lyrics of a song called "Hellaween." Granger explained, "Instead of delivering candy, we're deliverying death and destruction." He then proceeded to tell the courtroom which website people can log onto to listen to his music.
Granger continued, "I shot all my bullets at my daughter. I shot all 10 rounds at Samantha. I didn't tell you I don't remember doing it. I don't remember getting to Beaumont."
Shettle asked, "Why would you try to kill your own flesh and blood?"
Granger responded, "I told you. I was on cruise control. It's like I wasn't even there. That's what I've been telling everyone. I'm sorry I even shot my daughter. She's not right in the head. It's not her fault people would manipulate her like that. It was horrible watching that video [referring to a police unit dash camera video prosecutors submitted into evidence that shows the driver of a truck run over a woman in the parking lot of the Jefferson County courthouse]."
Shettle also questioned Granger about comments he made to his mother on the telephone while behind bars. Granger admitted to saying, "They made me famous for being bad. Never thought I would become a superstar by going crazy. I think it was pretty good to make Texas history."
After Shettle read this, Granger said from the witness stand, "Is that factual? Didn't I make Texas history?"
Granger also said to the attorney, "If you're going to quote some of my words, quote everything. Don't twist it."
Shettle said to Granger, "You have any other instructions for me?"
The defense team also called Bartholomew Granger's brothers, son and mother to the stand. Each person said the defendant was not guilty of the aggravated sexual assault charges.
Shettle showed Granger's son, 20-year-old Bartholomew Granger Jr., a photo marked state's exhibit 53. This is a photograph of the victim lying in a pool of blood in front of the courthouse.
Shettle asked Granger Jr., "What is that a photo of?"
Granger Jr. replied, "The courthouse shot up. A lady dead. You can't prove he murdered her."
The defense team also called to the witness stand a forensic pathologist who says her findings are different from those of the doctor who performed Minnie Ray Sebolt's autopsy, Dr. Funte. The doctor said she believes Dr. Funte reversed the entrance and exit points of the fatal gunshot wound to the victim's left thigh. She says if she is correct, the bullet came from the street. She said if Dr. Funte is correct, the bullet must have come from inside the courthouse.
The doctor also explained, based on surveillance video and affidavits from two officers who were near the victim, it appears Sebolt still had a pulse about four minutes after she'd been shot. The doctor said, "There was no aid rendered until EMS came nearly seven minutes later, at which time it was too late."
She said this is simply her opinion based on courthouse surveillance video and photographs. She did not have a copy of the EMS report.