Defense begins in Texas courthouse shooting

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Associated Press

Posted on April 29, 2013 at 6:32 AM

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Defense attorneys will begin making their case for a Houston man accused of opening fire on his daughter and her mother outside a courthouse last year, wounding them both and killing a 79-year-old bystander.

Bartholomew Granger's attorneys chose to wait to make their opening remarks to the jury until prosecutors finished making their case. After listening to witness after witness identify Granger as the gunman who wounded three women and killed Minnie Ray Sebolt, in the March 2012 attack in Beaumont, his attorneys were expected to begin mounting their defense on Monday.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Granger, and his attorneys have not signaled how they plan to defend him or whom they might call to the witness stand. Defense attorney Sonny Cribbs has said he thinks Granger will be convicted, but that he hopes jurors don't sentence him to death. Their other option would be life without parole.

Witnesses began testifying last week in the trial, which is being held in Galveston, about 75 miles from Beaumont, so that jurors wouldn't have to walk past the crime scene every day.

Prosecutors allege that Granger was furious with his daughter, her mother and his estranged wife because they had testified against him in a sexual assault trial taking place at the Jefferson County Courthouse at the time of the shooting. They say that Granger, who pleaded not guilty in that case, waited in his truck for hours on the morning of the attack for the chance to take revenge on the women.

Granger's daughter, 22, testified last week that she saw her father run toward her armed with what prosecutors have described as an assault rifle and begin shooting. A shot to her leg knocked her to the ground.

"I was laying on the pavement and I was looking up at the sky and I felt another shot," she said.

Witnesses testified that Granger jumped into his pickup truck and ran over his daughter. She testified she didn't see the truck but felt it. She was severely injured and had been shot three times, and she spent three months in a coma.

Her mother and another woman were less seriously wounded in the attack, but Sebolt, of Deweyville, died of her wounds on the courthouse steps.

Granger fled and exchanged shots with police until his bullet-riddled truck broke down a few blocks away. Jurors saw a police car dashboard video of his daughter in the street and of him firing at officers. Granger ran inside a construction business and grabbed several employees hostage and threatened to kill them.

One of them, Melvin Bond, testified last week that Granger, who had been wounded by police gunfire, told them what he did and that "he was proud that he had done this."

When Granger became woozy because of his injuries, his hostages overpowered him until police moved in.

One officer said Granger, in an ambulance and at the hospital, told him he had to do the shooting.

"They treat me like a killer, I'm going to act like a killer," Sgt. Mike Custer testified Granger told him. Custer also said Granger had planned to kill himself.

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