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Granger Facing Death Penalty a Year After Wild Texas Courthouse Shooting

Nearly a year after Bartholomew Granger allegedly went on a vengeful rampage, killing a 79-year-old bystander in the course of shooting his 20-year-old daughter and her mother for testifying against him in a sexual abuse trial, Granger went on trial today in a Texas courthouse for the bystander’s murder, with a possible spot on death row at stake.

During his rampage last March, Granger, 42, is accused of killing Minnie Ray Sebolt, who was accompanying a relative to the Beaumont, Texas courthouse and was caught in the gunfire. Granger’s daughter Samantha Jackson, who had testified against him the previous day, was wounded, along with her mother and another innocent bystander.

At the onset of today’s trial, prosecutors said Granger meticulously planned the attack on his daughter and her mother before he opened fire on them outside of the Jefferson County courthouse last year. Ed Shettle, a Jefferson County assistant district attorney, told jurors in his opening remarks that Granger was angry at them for testifying against him in a sexual assault trial. 

“This was calculated, well thought out and it took a long time for this crime to proceed,” Shettle said. Warning that the evidence presented during the trial, expected to take about two weeks to present, may seem tedious at times, Shettle said the intent was “to make sure when this is all over that this man is going to sit on death row and you all will be eventually comfortable with what you did and it was the right thing to do.”

State District Judge Bob Wortham asked Granger for his plea, to which he replied, “Not guilty, your honor.”

Granger, who is also charged with retaliating against a witness, wore a dark suit, light shirt and silver tie. Though he was not handcuffed or shackled, an electronic shock belt could be seen under his coat.

“This is not a case of mistaken identity,” Shettle said. “The evidence is going to show, I think, the defendant never left the crime scene. He was arrested within only a short, very short period of time where he was always in sight of law enforcement or people you will hear from during the course of the trial.

“This is not a whodunit.”

Shettle said evidence will show Granger got to the courthouse before it opened that morning “and laid in wait for hours for people he thought betrayed him and testified against him.”

At about 11:30 a.m., according to the prosecutor, Granger jumped from his pickup truck, ran to the middle of the street and began shooting with an assault rifle, hitting his daughter three times, then turning the gun toward her mother, who had started running.

“He struck poor little Miss Sebolt through the femoral arteries of her legs, shot twice as she tried to get through the revolving door of the courthouse,” Shettle said. “Within seconds, she was lying in a pool of blood in the courthouse.”

After that scene, the prosecutor said, Granger got back into his truck, ran over his wounded daughter and drove off, exchanging fire with police. When his truck became disabled a few blocks away, he fled into a construction business and grabbed hostages.

“One brave man there, he kicked the hell out of him and disarmed the guy,” Shettle said.

Chelle Warwick, a legal assistant to a Beaumont attorney who had represented Granger at the sexual misconduct trial, testified that Granger called her the previous day, crying, saying the judge was allowing witnesses to lie on the stand about him.

Warwick said she managed to calm Granger, but he told her, “I would take care of it tomorrow.”


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