Man convicted in courthouse death erupts in court
GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — A Houston man convicted of capital murder for a slaying during a shooting spree last year outside a Texas courthouse called his case a "mockery of justice" and a "lynching" during a profanity-filled tirade Monday that resulted in him being restrained and temporarily removed from court.
Bartholomew Granger was convicted last week for the death of 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt, who was a bystander shot when Granger opened fire on his daughter outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Beaumont. Granger has admitted shooting his daughter, saying he was angry with her for accusing him of sexual assault at a trial. But he has insisted he did not kill Sebolt.
Granger, a former truck driver and self-described rapper, is facing either a death sentence or life in prison without parole. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Granger previously has burst out in a couple of obscenity-filled rants, including one in which he called the lead prosecutor, Ed Shettle, "a demon."
As he testified in the punishment phase of his trial in Galveston, Granger's anger came out again as he was being cross-examined by Shettle and the two men went back and forth about whether Granger had killed Sebolt.
Granger, who testified against the advice of his attorneys, continued to insist the jury's verdict was wrong and blamed Sebolt's death on the Beaumont police, only admitting he had tried to shoot his daughter, whom he called "a liar and "a whore." His daughter, now 22, and her mother were among three women who were wounded in the March 2012 shooting. Granger had also admitted he ran over his daughter with his pickup truck after seeing she was still moving after having been shot.
After being warned by Judge Bob Wortham to stop using profanity, Granger got into an argument with Wortham, saying his trial is "not no ... court. This is a lynching," before launching into more expletives directed at his daughter.
Wortham called for a short break and had bailiffs remove Granger from the courtroom.
As Granger was being led out of court, he asked Shettle, "What's wrong Ed? ... Did I get you upset? You don't like hearing the truth."
During the 15-minute break, Granger, who had been taken to a holding area, could still be heard from inside the court as he cursed at the judge and yelled "this is ridiculous."
After the break, Granger resumed testifying for a few more minutes, continuing to yell at Shettle and insist he was not guilty of killing anybody.
As he sat down after testifying, Granger said, "Give me liberty or give me death. That's what I want." Earlier, while being questioned by Joel Vazquez, one of his defense attorneys, Granger said he wanted the death penalty and not life in prison.
After Granger's testimony, defense attorneys rested their case. Closing arguments in the punishment phase are set for Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, jurors listened to recorded jailhouse conversations in which Granger talked about demons going after his mother and warning relatives of anarchy breaking out in the U.S.
"Be careful. You a target now. Demons are after you again and they want you really bad," Granger said to his mother in a Jan. 8 conversation.
In a Jan. 17 call, he talked of civil war because of gun control efforts after last year's deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
Granger testified he's taking two different medications for depression and a mood stabilizer.
"That mood stabilizer doesn't work too good?" Shettle asked.
"No it doesn't," Granger replied.
Granger's trial was moved to Galveston, about 75 miles from Beaumont, so jurors wouldn't have to walk past the crime scene each day.
Follow Juan A. Lozano at http://www.twitter.com/juanlozano70.