Texas gunman's rampage followed sex abuse claims
DALLAS (AP) — The gunman police say went on a shooting spree outside a Texas courthouse this week had become increasingly frustrated by sexual misconduct charges his daughter lodged against him and two of his brothers, and he was so convinced of his innocence he rejected a plea deal that would have kept him out of prison, records and interviews revealed.
Police say Bartholomew Granger opened fire Wednesday outside the Jefferson County courthouse in Beaumont, killing an elderly woman and wounding three others, including his daughter and her mother, in what's now coming into focus as a final, desperate act of a man who believed he and his brothers had been wrongfully accused.
"This has been going on for a long time, and I guess he finally snapped," said one of the brothers, Ulysses Granger. "He couldn't take it anymore."
Bartholomew Granger, 41, was in custody Friday on $4 million bond after being charged with the murder of a bystander, Minnie Ray Sebolt, 79, of Deweyville.
Meanwhile, his daughter remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition, a police spokeswoman said. Authorities say Granger shot the 20-year-old woman and ran over her with his pickup truck as he tried to leave the scene.
The rampage occurred just hours before Granger's daughter was to resume testimony in a trial in which she accused her father of sexually assaulting her nine years ago. It was the latest episode in a saga that has led to two other criminal cases, a series of lawsuits and a sharply-divided family.
Granger's daughter made the allegations against her father and uncles in 2009, shortly after she moved out of her father's Houston home and went to live with her mother in Lake Charles, La., court records show.
One of Granger's brothers, Lyndon, was scheduled to stand trial in the same Beaumont courtroom on a charge of indecency with a child once Granger's trial was finished, although officials say both cases are now on hold because of the shooting investigation.
Lyndon Granger, 43, was out on bond at the time of the shooting. He has since been arrested and held on $500,000 bond at the direction of the trial judge, John Stevens.
Ulysses Granger, 44, was charged with sexual assault and prohibited sexual contact in Houston, but those changes have been dismissed, according to court records.
During trial testimony Tuesday, Granger's daughter recounted details of the alleged rape. She also testified that she first spoke of abuse during a conversation in which she and her mother were discussing whether to obtain a protective order against Granger.
Ulysses Granger said in an interview that he and his brothers believe his niece was prompted to make false statements by her mother because of lingering bitterness over a custody battle, but authorities have refused to take them seriously. Granger and his daughter's mother had two children together but were never married.
"In every corner, no matter we tried to do, it was like nobody wanted to hear our side," Ulysses Granger said. "It's like, 'You're going to jail no matter what you do, what evidence you have.' It's been like that the whole way through."
Court records show the case against Ulysses Granger was closed by Houston police due to lack of information.
Jefferson County District Attorney Tom Maness declined to comment on the cases in his jurisdiction because both are still pending.
The mother did not respond to messages at phone numbers listed for her.
Rife Kimler, the attorney representing Bartholomew and Lyndon Granger in their criminal cases, said Bartholomew Granger rejected a plea deal before the trial began in which he would have received 10 years' probation with deferred adjudication. That means if Granger fulfilled the terms of his probation, he wouldn't have had a felony conviction, the attorney said.
"He said, 'I didn't do it. Why should I plead guilty?'" Kimler said.
The attorney said he planned to challenge Granger's daughter's credibility during cross-examination Wednesday afternoon because she initially testified the assault occurred in Houston instead of Beaumont before correcting herself. Because of that and other inconsistencies in her testimony, Kimler said he thought he had a winnable case and never anticipated anything other than normal behavior from his client.
"I'm really at a loss on this case," he said.
In lawsuits filed in both federal and state court, the brothers have claimed, often in heated fashion, that they have been victimized by law enforcement as well as Granger's daughter and her mother. The lawsuits, filed without attorneys, describe in detail how much the criminal proceedings have cost each man.
In one filing, Bartholomew Granger said he lost his job with a bus company after a Jefferson County official informed the firm of his pending case. In another, Ulysses Granger, who works as a captain on ships that service offshore oil rigs, said he was forced to cash in his 401(k) to stay out of jail.
"The police and (Child Protective Services) are working in concert to deprive us of life, liberty, privacy and freedom," they wrote in a document signed by all three. "I know there's good cops and good judges, but so far we (have) seen nothing but tyranny from these defendants' actions."
John T. Floyd, a Houston criminal defense attorney who regularly represents defendants accused of sex crimes, said what happened in Beaumont is a worst-case example of how such cases can cause people to become unhinged. Three of his clients committed suicide while their cases were pending, including one who appeared headed for acquittal, he said.
"When it comes down to these types of allegations, all the rules start to change," Floyd said. "There's an incredible amount of pressure. Families start to fall apart. There's really no winner, even when the verdict is 'not guilty.'"