GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — The start of the trial penalty phase for a Houston man convicted of killing a 79-year-old bystander during a shooting rampage outside a courthouse was delayed Wednesday by his angry outbursts.
"Where's the American justice for me!" Bartholomew Granger shouted in a Galveston courtroom a day after jurors convicted him of capital murder in a shooting in which he has admitted his daughter was the intended target. Minnie Ray Sebolt, a Deweyville woman who was escorting a relative to court, was killed.
During a 15-minute tirade Wednesday, Granger addressed the judge, using obscenities. The punishment phase of the trial was about to begin, and jurors were to hear testimony to decide whether Granger should get the death penalty or be sent to prison for life with no chance of parole.
Granger, testifying in his own defense, had admitted that he opened fire on his daughter outside the downtown Beaumont courthouse but insisted he did not kill Sebolt. Granger said he shot his daughter for testifying against him in a sexual assault trial. Granger's daughter and her mother were injured, and the daughter, now 22, spent three months in a coma.
Granger told the judge Wednesday that his daughter, the alleged victim in the sexual assault case, "got what she deserved," repeatedly using epithets to refer to her.
"She's the one who should be dead!" he yelled. "Not the old lady, her!"
Granger also shouted: "Give me liberty or give me ... death. I want it. I'd rather be dead than be in ... custody. You are demons."
His attorneys asked for a delay in the punishment phase. Judge Bob Wortham refused but sent jurors home for the day.
Granger was led from the courtroom by bailiffs.
One of the questions jurors must decide in determining Granger's sentence is whether he would be a future danger.
Wortham had said the punishment phase of the trial could last into next week.
Granger's outburst came as his lawyers asked Wortham to reconsider the defendant's mental competency, saying Granger had been unable to control himself Wednesday. Granger earlier was ruled competent to stand trial.
Information from: The Beaumont Enterprise, http://beaumontenterprise.com