Bartholowmew Granger was sentenced to death by the State of Texas for a murder. According to court documents Bartholowmew Granger would shoot and kill a stranger while attempting to shoot his daughter outside of a courtroom. Bartholowmew Granger would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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Bartholomew Granger More News
Deborah Ray Holst reminds her grandchildren that an angel is watching them — Mawmaw Minnie.
Holst’s mother, Minnie Ray Sebolt, was killed at the Jefferson County Courthouse five years ago, shot outside the entrance while accompanying a friend to help her get VA benefits.
“I don’t use the word killed,” said Holst, 60. “He murdered her.”
In the five years since the shooting, in which Bartholomew Granger fired at his daughter and ex-girlfriend, Samantha and Claudia Jackson — killing Sebolt and injuring a bystander — Holst said she has thought about her mother every day.
She talks to Claudia about once a year, keeping up with how she and Samantha are doing, and tells her grandchildren stories about Mawmaw.
One person she hasn’t spoken to is Bartholomew Granger, 46, who spends his days in a one-person cell on death row at a state prison in Livingston.
Granger was sentenced to death in 2013, after a jury found him guilty of capital murder. Prosecutors proved he intended to kill his daughter, a crime of retaliation against a trial witness, and transferred that intent to Sebolt’s death.
He has appealed the ruling twice. His most recent appeal is pending at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
From behind a barrier in a visitation room at the prison, Granger said he remembers only pieces of the day before he woke up in the hospital and was told he shot someone at the courthouse.
Eruption of gunfire
“We all still remember it. Everybody still remembers it,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham. “If you were here on that day, it was etched in your mind.”
At the time, Wortham was the 58th District Court Judge. On March 14, the day of the shooting, he was in Mexico on vacation. In 2013, he presided over Granger’s trial, at which the jury sentenced him to death.
Courthouse security guard Edmund Woodsmall had just arrived at work that day and was in the jury impaneling auditorium next to the entrance when he heard gunshots and glass breaking.
“Bullets were flying through the glass, they broke one of the doors,” he said.
Sebolt had already been shot and was on the ground outside the revolving door when he looked out, he said.
“I just stayed over here and made sure nobody could get in,” Woodsmall said, motioning to the entrance, where he still works.
The same security system is in place at the courthouse today, he said. All entrants must pass through a metal detector and have their bag scanned.
Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary, who was appointed six months earlier, was saying goodbye to a newly appointed chaplain when he heard the gunshots. He rushed him safely to his car and then headed to the courthouse.
He said officers still poke fun at him for jumping over the 3-foot barricade beside the courthouse.
“It amazes me what goes through your head in such a short period of time,” Singletary said.
When they were able to go outside, Woodsmall said security guards checked on Sebolt and another woman who had been shot. Sebolt was already dead.
Meanwhile, officers shot at Bartholomew Granger as he fled the courthouse and tried to drive away, surveillance footage shows.
Wortham said 56 bullet shell casings were recovered from the roadway connecting the entrance of the courthouse to Milam Street. Fifty matched law enforcement weapons, and another six weren’t identified, possibly fired by private citizens.
As Granger fled, Singletary hid behind a traffic pole trying not to get hit by his own officers firing at the truck, he said.
He said in his 46 years on the force he couldn’t recall a dangerous incident as significant as this one.
Granger said he remembers bringing a gun to the courthouse that day, though he claims not to know much of what happened later.
“I remember being at the courthouse, I remember seeing Claudia and Samantha,” he said. He continues to accuse the women of lying about him and falsely accusing him of sexual assault.
“The only person I remember shooting at was my daughter,” Granger said. “I shot at her eight times.”
“All of a sudden, everything was black. When I came to, I ran out of the building, started turning the truck around,” he said. “I thought they were going to keep shooting.”
Singletary said Granger made eye contact with him as he drove past him heading straight-on into a strip of bullets.
“I got around the corner, the truck died,” Bartholomew Granger said. “I ran into the office building, there were some people.”
The office building was the warehouse of RCI, a construction company
Prosecutors said Granger held four people hostage in the office, though he claimed he told them, “I’m not going to shoot, I just want the cops to stop shooting.”
Granger, who had been hit as he fled the courthouse, started to black out, and the hostages tackled him, Wortham said.
He was later indicted on four counts of aggravated kidnapping.
Holst’s daughter received a phone call from the woman Sebolt was at the courthouse with, telling her “your Mawmaw’s been shot.”
Granger sticks to his belief that Sebolt was shot and killed by police fire, which Wortham calls an impossibility because law enforcement didn’t arrive until after she was shot.
“I’m sorry that someone lost a life, but I didn’t take a life,” said Granger, who said he can’t feel remorse because that would mean admitting to killing her. “I have empathy and sympathy for the family,” he said. He said he prays for Sebolt every night.
That’s no comfort to Holst, who said she looks forward to his as-yet-unscheduled execution date.
“My taxes, my children’s taxes, are paying for that piece of crap to get free medical, free dental, three meals a day,” Holst said. “I’m a Christian, my mother was a Christian, but I can’t forgive him, and I can’t wait for him to get the needle.”
Throughout his days, which consist mostly of reading graphic novels and listening to the radio, Granger said he sits in his cell thinking of the day that led to his confinement.
“I’d rather die than be in prison for life,” Granger said. If he were ever released, he said, the first thing he would do is eat a Taco Bell chalupa. After that, he said, “I’d just want to be left alone.”
In the aftermath of the shooting, Holst said Claudia Jackson reached out to the Sebolt family and apologized. “We said we appreciate the thought, but there is no animosity. They’re victims too, even more so,” she said.
While the two families were trying to make sense of what they had just endured, Singletary said his officers were tense.
“If it ever gets to the point where it doesn’t affect you, you need to get another job,” Singletary said about the experience of the day. “It affects you, but you have to be able to control it.”
Holst has kept a close eye on Granger’s appeals, she said. His most recent, according to attorney Gretchen Sween with the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs, is a habeas corpus proceeding addressing the process of his trial.
The appeal is challenging the constitutionality of the proceedings in district court, Sween said.
Sween filed objections with the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals in December, including that trial lawyers Sonny Cribbs and James Makin failed to present relevant evidence, that the court denied Granger due process by not holding a hearing on his objections, and that the district court should not have adopted facts as presented by the state.
“There’s a floor of the kind of representation everyone is entitled to,” she said. “Our argument is that he didn’t even receive that.”
Sween said there has not been a hearing on this appeal. Last month, the court ordered the Jefferson County District Clerk to submit six of the exhibits from Granger’s first trial to the court for inspection