Courthouse shooter sentenced to death
After more than two weeks of testimony in the capital murder trial of convicted Jefferson County courthouse shooter Bartholomew Granger, jurors have decided the self-described “Mr. Hyde” will be put to death.
The death penalty for Granger comes after a week’s worth of recorded jailhouse phone conversations were presented to jurors during the sentencing phase of the trial. This prompted Granger to make sudden outbursts, cursing at jurors and attorneys in open court. As a result, Granger’s defense questioned their client’s sanity.
“He was already yelling in his cell back there (at his lawyers) and was screaming loud enough to where everyone could hear him,” said prosecutor Pat Knauth after Wednesday’s May 1 proceedings. “That delayed the court at first.”
A psychologist subsequently evaluated Granger and found him mentally fit for sentencing.
“He’s got his 15 minutes of fame,” Knauth said.
Granger was convicted Tuesday, April 30, 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 his ex-wife and daughter, Claudia Jackson and Samantha Jackson, and his wife, Rebecca Richards.
Minnie Sebolt, a 79-year-old grandmother from Deweyville, was gunned down at the courthouse that morning, caught in the crossfire while helping her friend, Vickie Hollingsworth, get VA benefits.
“She just loved to help people,” Hollingsworth testified tearfully.
After emptying his assault-style weapon into the Jefferson County courthouse, Granger fled the scene, but not before shooting and then running his daughter over as evidenced by courthouse video taken on March 14, 2012.
“He didn’t just straddle her,” said lead prosecutor, Ed Shettle in opening statements. “He ran over her with both tires.”
Granger seemed unmoved by the guilty verdict April 30 and was calm and collected until the following day, May 1. According to attorneys familiar with the case, Granger thought he would be exonerated once jurors heard the testimony of his wife, ex-wife and daughter, and became enraged the day after a jury found him guilty.
“I guess he thought he was going to get off on a technicality,” Knauth said.
Sebolt’s daughter, Deborah Ray Holst of Deweyville, attended every day of Granger’s proceedings, and said she wants Granger to die as soon as possible. Holst said her mother was bright and business savvy.
“She was 79 going on 30,” Holst said of her mother. “She didn’t think there was anything thing she couldn’t do.”
Granger’s automatic appeal of his death penalty sentence could mean he’ll spend the next 10 years waiting to be put to death. Even so, after Granger interrupted her impact statement, prompting Judge Bob Wortham to restrain and gag him on Tuesday, April 7, Holst said she’s ready to see Granger get the needle.
“He has no remorse,” Holst said. “I’ll be there with my mother’s picture, and her face and my face would be the last thing he ever saw.
Clay Thorp can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 225, or by e-mail at clay [at] theexaminer [dot] com.