GALVESTON - A Galveston County jury has convicted Bartholomew Granger of capital murder in the shooting death of Minnie Ray Sebolt outside the Jefferson County Courthouse last year.
Granger showed no emotion but winked at prosecutors when bailiffs escorted him out of the courthroom.
The jury returned with the verdict shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday after listening to about one hour of closing arguments that ended at 11 a.m.
The next step is the punishment phase which begins Wednesday at 9 a.m. The defense expects to present witnesses Thursday in its effort to avoid the death penalty. Both sides expect to wrap up the punishment phase Monday or Tuesday. The jury will decide whether Granger should receive the death penalty or an automatic life sentence.
The defense requested that jurors be allowed to consider a murder charge, which would not include the possibility of the death penalty. Prosecutors objected and Judge Bob Wortham denied the request.
This morning defense attorneys addressed the jury during closing arguments. James Makin told the jury not to jump to conclusions. He told them, "You decide what's beyond a reasonable doubt." Makin then said, "We believe the government has failed to prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. granger fired the bullet that hit Miss Sebolt and caused her death."
Defense attorney Sonny Cribbs also addressed the jury. He told them Granger "might be guilty of murder but he's not guilty of capital murder."
Prosecutors also addressed the jury. Prosecutor Pat Knauth said, "What happened on that day was wrong. What happened to that family was wrong. To the people of our county it was wrong. And he (Granger) needs to be held accountable for that."
Lead prosecutor Ed Shettle told the jury Granger is an "evil creature" who "wants to spit in your eyes too, but getting up here and lying repeatedly."
The jury started deliberations shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday. A few minutes later the group requested video surveillance and all photographs.
Defense attorneys called eight witnesses Monday in the capital murder trial. Their first witness was the defendant. Below are statements Granger made during his testimony.
The defendent said he doesn't remember everything about March 14, 2012. This is how he described that day.
"I pulled the trigger. She [his daughter] fell down and I fell down.
She said, 'Daddy, please stop. I'll tell the truth [referring to her testimony against him in his aggravated sexual assault case]. I'll tell them.' I pulled the trigger again. I pulled again. I stood up.' When I tried to pull it again, there was no more bullets. I thought to myself, 'Man, I really messed up.' I was thinking I was going to hit Claudia [the mother of his daughter] with my truck. I remember getting shot in the back by some cops. I remember thinking they came so quickly. I remember a cop truck on the right and a car coming from the left. Everything just slowed down. It seemed fast, but it was slow. I was looking at Claudia. I was thinking I was going to hit her with this truck. I saw Sam [his daughter] moving like the was getting up. I thought, 'All those times I shot her I didn't even hit her.' I pushed down on the gas accelerator. I fixed the truck toward Sam. I closed my eyes and I hit her. I remember that. I remember the shooting."
He said after the shooting he only saw a woman who was shot in the hand, and Claudia, his daughter's mother. He said, "I didn't have no more bullets. That's why I ran to my truck. I'm very sorry I hit Sam.
It's horrible. It's hard to explain. I had mixed feelings. I wanted her to tell the truth. It's weird. My mind was going in different directions."
Referring to his aggravated sexual assault case that was underway at that time, he said, "I was angry. I was really angry. I hear what they say. You're presumed innocent? But everyone kept telling me we know you did this."
Prosecutor Ed Shettle then cross-examined Granger. Granger directed these comments to the courtroom.
"Just imagine how you'd feel if someone lied on your because they don't like you. All of a sudden, people tell you you're a rapist. I'm fighting a losing battle. Everyone automatically assuming I did it. He gotta be guilty. But does everyone know I don't have a criminal record? I stayed out of trouble my whole life. And for what."
Shettle and Granger then had this exchange:
Shettle: "You didn't kill that lady right there? You did that, didn't you. Did you kill that little old lady?"
Granger: "No I did not. Probably the Beaumont Police. They probably shot her."
Shettle: "Did the cops use this gun to kill Miss Sebolt?"
Granger: "I had that gun. I don't remember bringing it to Beaumont."
Shettle: "That's a convenient answer."
Granger: "You say it's really convenient for me? What does that mean?
Why is it people automatically assume I'm lying?"
Shettle: "You're a murdering son of a -----, that's why."
Granger: "Why do you have so much hostility toward me? What did I do to you?"
Shettle: "That little old lady bled to death because you killed her.
That's why there's so much animosity in me."
Granger: "I didn't kill her. I didn't have any more bullets."
Granger testified he got his rifle from a drug dealer.
"I knew someone who sells heat; an acquaintance. He deals in drugs and guns and stuff like that."
After Shettle asked Judge Bob Wortham to make Granger answer his question regarding the dealer's name, Granger said, "His name is Reg. I don't know his last name. He's an MS-13 member."
He also explained he and his brother have a musical rap group. Shettle asked him about the lyrics of a song called "Hellaween." Granger explained, "Instead of delivering candy, we're deliverying death and destruction." He then proceeded to tell the courtroom which website people can log onto to listen to his music.
Granger continued, "I shot all my bullets at my daughter. I shot all
10 rounds at Samantha. I didn't tell you I don't remember doing it. I don't remember getting to Beaumont."
Shettle asked, "Why would you try to kill your own flesh and blood?"
Granger responded, "I told you. I was on cruise control. It's like I wasn't even there. That's what I'ev been telling everyone. I'm sorry I even shot my daughter. She's not right in the head. It's not her fault people would manipulate her like that. It was horrible watching that video [referring to a police unit dash camera video prosecutors submitted into evidence that shows the driver of a truck run over a woman in the parking lot of the Jefferson County courthouse]."
Shettle also questioned Granger about comments he made to his mother on the telephone, while behind bars. Granger admitted to saying, "They made me famous for being bad. Never thought I would become a superstar by going crazy. I think it was pretty good to make Texas history."
After Shettle read this, Granger said from the witness stand, "Is that factual? Didn't I make Texas history?"
Granger also said to the attorney, "If you're going to quote some of my words, quote everything. Don't twist it."
Shettle said to Granger, "You have any other instructions for me?"
The defense team also called Bartholomew Granger's brothers, son, and mother to the stand. Each person said the defendant was not guilty of the aggravated sexual assault charges.
Shettle showed Granger's son, 20-year-old Bartholomew Granger Jr., a photo marked state's exhibit 53.This is a photograph of the victim laying in a pool of blood in front of the courthouse.
Shettle asked Granger Jr., "What is that a photo of?"
Granger Jr. replied, "The courthouse shot up. A lady dead. You can't prove he murdered her."
The defense team also called to the witness stand a forensic pathologist who says her findings are different than those of the doctor who performed Minnie Ray Sebolt's autopsy, Dr. Funte. The doctor said she believes Dr. Funte reversed the entrance and exit points of the fatal gunshot wound to the victim's left thigh. She says if she is correct, the bullet came from the street. She said if Dr. Funte is correct, the bullet must have come from inside the courthouse.
The doctor also explained, based on surveillance video and affidavits from two officers who were near the victim, it appears Sebolt still had a pulse about four minutes after she'd been shot. The doctor said, "There was no aid rendered until EMS came nearly seven minutes later, at which time it was too late."
She said this is simply her opinion based on courthouse surveillance video and photographs. She did not have a copy of the EMS report.
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