Testimony begins in capital murder trial against accused courthouse shooter

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Apr 22, 2013

GALVESTON - After nearly three weeks of jury selection, testimony in the capital murder trial of Bartholomew Granger got underway in a Galveston County courtroom Monday.

The jury of three men, nine women and two alternates listened to Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney and lead prosecutor Ed Shettle as he outlined the state's case against Granger.

Granger is accused of killing 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt on March 14, 2012, during a shooting spree outside of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont.

Three other women, including Granger’s daughter, were also hurt.

At the time of the shootings, the then-41-year-old Granger was on trial in Criminal District Court Judge John Stevens’ courtroom for aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Shettle described the acts in question as "not a case of mistaken identity and not a case of whodunit," insinuating Granger was bent on revenge against Samantha Jackson, his 20-year-old daughter, and her mother, Victoria Jackson.

Although the events took place in Jefferson County, the trial venue was changed to Galveston County because jurors would have to walk through the crime scene in order to enter the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Shettle said "it was necessary to take Galveston County's time on behalf of Jefferson County."

"It is to make sure this man sits on death row and the jury is comfortable (it has done) the right thing," he said.

Jefferson County District Court Judge Bob Wortham is presiding over the case, using the Galveston courtroom for proceedings.

Judge Stevens was the prosecution's first witness.

He recalled someone bursting into his courtroom and yelling, "There's a shooting!”

Afterwards, the judge stated, he instructed those in the courtroom to stay put as he left to get his own personal weapon.

Stevens added he then ushered 10 frightened women into the County Clerk's office, which is located across the atrium from the courthouse entrance where the shooting was taking place.

The jury spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon hearing testimony from a legal assistant with Granger's former defense attorney, a forensic scientist, a Texas Ranger, a Department of Public Safety officer, a district attorney's office investigator and Beaumont Police Chief Jim P. Singletary.

Meanwhile, the defense, led by attorney C. Haden "Sonny" Cribbs of Beaumont, stated it will wait until all of the evidence is presented to offer its own opening statement.

Officials estimate it will take at least two weeks to decide Granger's fate.


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