GALVESTON, Texas - Jurors in Galveston County began hearing testimony Monday in a murder trial moved from Beaumont to Galveston because it happened at the front door of the Jefferson County Courthouse last year.
Bartholomew Granger is charged with capital murder, accused of killing Minnie Sebolt, 79, as she entered the courthouse March 14, 2012. Prosecutors said Granger had already shot and wounded his ex-wife and daughter, because they were witnesses in his sexual assault trial.
Sebolt was not involved in the case and was only at the courthouse, because she was helping her friend get veteran’s benefits. She died in a hail of bullets and collapsed outside the courthouse revolving door.
“What I want. I want the death penalty,” said Sebolt’s daughter Deborah Ray Holst, after the first day of testimony in Galveston.
Holst was in the courtroom Monday as prosecutors played surveillance video of the attacks including the suspect’s vehicle racing away from the courthouse as police shot at him. Another surveillance camera trained on the courthouse front door shows Sebolt collapsing after being shot. The trial was moved from Beaumont to Galveston, because prospective jurors and family members would have to walk through those same doors each day of a trial.
“It was horrendous seeing my mother be that vital and all of the sudden struck down like turning off a light switch,” said Holst, who watched the video in court.
One of the first witnesses was a secretary for Granger’s original attorney who said the defendant called the day before the shooting, hysterical and upset the way his sexual assault trial was proceeding.
She testified that he also said, “I’ll take care of this tomorrow.” The gunfire at the courthouse erupted the next day.
Granger’s ex-wife, daughter and a third person recovered from their injuries even though prosecutors said the defendant also ran over his daughter with his pickup after he shot her.
“That you are a piece of crap,” Holst said when asked what she would want to say to Bartholomew Granger. “You couldn’t hold a candle to any part of her (Sebolt), and I hope they give you the needle and I hope it’s soon.”
Prosecutors expect to call as many as 46 witnesses in a trial that is expected to last about three weeks. Defense attorneys, who have not challenged if Granger is responsible for the murder, admit that their only goal is try to keep him from getting the death penalty.