Texas man convicted of bystander's murder in shooting spree
GALVESTON, Texas — A Houston man who admitted shooting his daughter outside a Texas courthouse was convicted on Tuesday of capital murder for the death of a 79-year-old bystander.
Bartholomew Granger, 42, testified in his own defense that he didn't shoot Minnie Ray Sebolt in March when he opened fire on his daughter outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Beaumont. Granger said he was angry with his daughter for testifying against him in a sex assault case.
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.
Jurors returned their guilty verdict after about one hour and 45 minutes of deliberations.
Granger and his lawyers were seated at the defense table when the verdict was read. He had no discernible reaction, but winked at the lead prosecutor, Jefferson County assistant district attorney Ed Shettle, as he was escorted by deputies from the courtroom.
“Amazing,” Shettle said, shaking his head and turning back toward spectators in the courtroom.
The punishment phase will begin Wednesday and could go into next week, Judge Bob Wortham said. 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.
“This is the best feeling I've had in over a year and a half,” said Deborah Ray Holst, Sebolt's daughter. “All I'm waiting now is for them to convict him with the death penalty.”
She said the verdict helped Sebolt's family and also Granger's daughter and her family “to not be afraid anymore, especially if he gets the death penalty. They can live in peace.”
Asked about Granger's exit from the courtroom, she responded: “Having the audacity to wink, how dense is that? Nobody can be that stupid.
“There's no doubt that he needs to be on death row. And that he needs to get the needle. He is a menace to anyone.”
The trial was moved 75 miles to Galveston, so jurors didn't have to walk past the crime scene each day.
In closing arguments earlier Tuesday, Shettle said recordings of jail phone calls showed Granger saying he was proud of the attack.
“I ask you to do what you know in your heart,” Shettle told jurors. “Find him guilty.”