Man sentenced to death in Texas courthouse killing

Associated Press SHARE

By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — A Houston man who admitted opening fire on his daughter outside a Southeast Texas courthouse was sentenced to death Tuesday for fatally shooting a 79-year-old bystander.

Bartholomew Granger, 42, was convicted last week of capital murder in the slaying of Minnie Ray Sebolt. The same jurors who found him guilty deliberated for a little less than two hours before deciding on the death penalty.

Granger testified that he opened fire on his daughter outside the courthouse in downtown Beaumont in March 2012 but insisted he did not kill Sebolt. She was a bystander walking outside the courthouse, where Granger's daughter had testified against him in a sexual assault case. The daughter and her mother were among three women wounded in the attack.

During the sentencing phase of his trial, Granger burst out in profanity-filled rants denouncing the verdict, his daughter, prosecutors and the judge. On Monday, as he testified — and against the advice of attorneys in the punishment phase — Granger called his case a "mockery of justice" and a "lynching." He was then restrained and temporarily removed from court.

The outbursts continued Tuesday when Granger began yelling as Sebolt's daughter was reading a statement.

"I'm sorry your mother is dead!" he shouted to Deborah Ray Holst. "I didn't kill your mother!"

He was removed from the courtroom and returned minutes later with a cloth covering his mouth. He continued to interrupt Holst and at one point a bailiff puts his hands over Granger's mouth in an effort to quiet him. He became increasingly agitated and at least seven guards were needed to subdue him before order was restored.

Granger testified during the trial that 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. The daughter spent three months in a coma.

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

Granger's daughter, now 22, was among the witnesses who testified against him.

Prosecutors said Granger parked outside the courthouse for hours, then ambushed the women when they appeared at the courthouse in the late morning. Sebolt also was outside at the time, accompanying a relative to the courthouse. She was shot twice and died in the revolving door at the courthouse entrance.

Granger subsequently came under fire from police, abandoned his bullet-riddled truck about three blocks away, walked inside a construction business and took several people hostage. At some point he was wounded, eventually was overpowered by his captives and police moved in to take him into custody.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.