Jurors to decide Granger's fate
One of the most high-profile capital murder trials in Beaumont’s history has ended with a verdict of guilty for Jefferson County Courthouse shooter Bartholomew Granger, but sentencing the murderous "Mr. Hyde" may take longer than expected.
Granger seemed unmoved by the verdict Tuesday, April 30, but eventually shouted at prosecutors and jurors in open court on Wednesday and Thursday.
In an interview with The Examiner, prosecutor Pat Knauth said Granger went on a tirade of hate and apathetic disregard for those he was convicted of shooting and killing at the Jefferson County Courthouse on March 14, 2012.
“He was hollering, screaming, creating a scene in the court, which I thought he would do much earlier in the case, but he decided today — after he got convicted — would be the day,” Knauth said a few hours after Wednesday’s proceedings had ended.
After screaming at his attorneys before entering the courtroom, Granger eventually entered proceedings and the verbal lashing continued.
Judge Bob Wortham excused the jury and soon after, Granger’s defense attorneys moved to question their client’s sanity.
Granger was found to be competent after a psychological evaluation Thursday.
Knauth said Granger’s outbursts will only delay an already likely end.
“He’s got his 15 minutes of fame,” Knauth said.
Bartholomew Granger was convicted after more than 40 family members, Beaumont Police Officers, attorneys and employees at a local business testified they were caught up in Granger’s scheme to kill Claudia Jackson, his ex-wife; Samantha Jackson, his daughter; and Rebecca Richards, his wife.
All three women survived the shooting, despite Granger’s best efforts to end the sexual assault trial in which Rebecca was set to testify against him.
Attorney David Diez said he was parked near Granger’s vehicle and was entering the courtroom when he saw a gunman open fire in the streets of Beaumont.
“I looked toward the sound, directly across the street, and I saw what appeared to be a middle aged black man firing at a girl,” he said.
Previous witnesses testified Granger said nothing as he approached his daughter, Samantha Jackson, in the middle of Milam Street and shot at her multiple times.
“She had her hands up and she was twisting like she was being hit repeatedly,” Diez said.
Troy Soileau said he was at the courthouse doors near the smoking area when the shooting began. Soileau testified he saw Granger fire a volley of bullets into the courthouse doors as his other targets, Claudia Jackson and Rebecca Richards, tried to flee to safety.
As bullets whizzed by, shattering the courthouse glass, Soileau testified he hid behind a pillar and yelled for those in the area to take cover.
“I was screaming,” he said. “I was talking, telling people to hide. Get inside.”
Standing close enough to the courthouse revolving doors, Soileau said he saw Minnie Ray Sebolt, the only of Granger’s victims to die that day, cut down by gunfire.
“Did her eyes meet your eyes?” Prosecutor Pat Knauth asked.
“They did,” Soileau said.
“Did she respond to you?” Knauth asked.
“She didn’t,” Soileau answered.
Both Soileau and Diez testified they ran to Samantha Jackson’s aid in the moments after the shooting. Despite being shot and run over by Granger’s truck, they said she was responsive.
“I asked her if she was a Christian,” Soileau said, describing his best attempts to comfort the severely wounded Jackson.
“We prayed, as best we could,” he said.
Samantha Jackson was in a coma for months as a result of her injuries, but nonetheless testified against Granger, who she said methodically opened fire on her on March 14, 2012.
After opening fire in front of the courthouse, Beaumont police testified Granger made his way to RCI, a fabrication and pipe fitting company blocks away from the courthouse.
“He came in and said something like he was gonna kill everybody and that’s when I realized I had a problem bigger than the one I had on my desk,” said Edwin Hoag, who was working at the time.
Two other co-workers testified Granger used their cell phones to phone friends and family, and said Granger was bragging about his crime spree.
RCI employee Steve Nash said Granger — bleeding and slipping in and out of consciousness — presented him an opportunity to end the bloodshed.
“When he closed his eyes the third time, that’s when I did what I had to do,” Nash said.
Nash testified he gave Granger a swift and vicious kick to his testicles and wrestled the assault weapon from Granger’s grasp, which they later found out was empty.
“When we got close to the door, we heard, ‘Come in! Come in! Somebody’s got him!’” said BPD SWAT Team Leader Scott Apple.
Granger was soon placed into custody and was treated for at least three gunshot wounds, police said.
“We placed him in some flex cuffs and called an ambulance,” Apple said.
Other BPD officers who guarded Granger’s hospital room testified Granger made incriminating statements, showing no remorse while recovering from his non-life-threatening wounds.
Officers testified Granger said he would rather enter prison as a murderer than a rapist.
Detective Frank Coffin, a hostage negotiator, testified Granger said “It’s good to go to jail for something that’s worth it.”
Sentencing for Granger might not come until May 8, according to attorneys familiar with the case.
As of Thursday's proceedings, Granger was found to be competent to stand trial. Therefore, a jury has two options for Granger's punishment: life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Deborah Ray Holst, the daughter of 79-year-old Sebolt, an innocent bystander cut down by Granger’s gunfire while helping her friend get VA benefits, said she wants the death penalty for Granger.
“I’ll be there with my mother’s picture, and her face and my face would be the last thing he ever saw,” she said.