Defense in courthouse shooting trial opens with testimony from suspect

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Apr 29, 2013

GALVESTON – The man accused of fatally shooting a woman and wounding three others at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont last year took the stand in his own defense Monday.

Bartholomew Granger, 42, testified after his attorneys declined to give an opening statement, repeatedly denying he killed 79-year-old Deweyville resident Minnie Ray Sebolt.

Granger is accused of shooting his daughter, Samantha Jackson, and her mother, Claudia Jackson, during a recess from Granger's sexual assault trial where the two women had testified against him. He allegedly opened fire outside the Beaumont courthouse on March 14, 2012, hitting Sebolt, an innocent bystander who was entering the front doors of the courthouse. He is also accused of running over Samantha Jackson after shooting her, then fleeing to a nearby business and taking hostages.

Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Ed Shettle questioned Granger about the events that day, but the defendant said he "does not remember how he got to the courthouse, but all I remember was being there."

Granger recalled his relationship with Claudia Jackson, the mother of his 22-year-old daughter Samantha and 20-year-old son Bartholomew Jr.

He described the relationship as "a little rocky" when they were younger and "always strained" since then.

But the relationship with his daughter was good based on entries in the young woman's diary, Granger said.

When asked about the firearm allegedly used in the shooting, Granger explained that he purchased the weapon from a drug dealer in Houston, but does not remember bringing it with him to Beaumont.

The defendant testified that he has no memory of the attack other than shooting his eldest child "over and over again" because he thought "he was missing her all those times."

He added he then saw her get up so he "closed his eyes and hit the accelerator."

Granger had denied he killed Sebolt, and pinned her death on the Beaumont Police Department.

Granger told Shettle he blames the ordeal not on Samantha, "but Claudia (Jackson) and (Jefferson) County for using" his daughter.

Meanwhile, Sebolt's daughter, Deborah Ray Holst, was seen silently crying in the courtroom while Granger spoke before the jury of three men and nine women.

Jurors also heard from Granger's relatives and a friend of his daughter's.

The defense is working to keep Granger from receiving the death penalty.

The venue for the trial was moved to Galveston County, because jurors would walk through the crime scene every time they entered the courthouse for trial. Jefferson County District Court Judge Bob Wortham is presiding over the trial in a Galveston court.

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