A Houston man admitted
Monday that he opened fire last year outside a Texas courthouse and shot his daughter for what he says were lies about him sexual assaulting her, but he denied that he killed a bystander in the rampage
"I didn't kill her," Bartholomew Granger, 42, said at his capital murder trial. "I didn't have any more bullets. How could I have killed her?"
Granger faces life in prison without parole or the death penalty if convicted of capital murder for the fatal shooting in March 2012 of 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Beaumont. His daughter and her mother were among three others wounded.
Prosecutors spent last week building their case against Granger, who said he was a rap singer and former truck driver. Granger was the first witness called to the stand by his lawyers as his defense began.
He said details of the shooting spree remain hazy.
"It was like I was on cruise control," Granger said. "It was like I wasn't even there. That's what I've been telling everyone."
Told by Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Ed Shettle that bullets from his gun were found behind Sebolt's body at the courthouse, he replied: "I don't know that."
Under testy cross-examination by Shettle, Granger told the prosecutor: "Why is it people automatically assume I'm lying?"
Shettle responded: "Because you're a murdering son of a bitch."
"That's your opinion," Granger shot back.
"Why do you got such hostility toward me? What did I do to you?"
"That little old lady bled to death," the prosecutor replied. "That's why there's such animosity."
Prosecutors allege Granger was furious with his daughter, her mother and his estranged wife because they had testified against him in a sexual assault trial taking place at the Jefferson County Courthouse at the time of the shooting. They say that Granger, who pleaded not guilty in that case, waited in his truck for hours on the morning of the attack for the chance to take revenge on the women.
He did remember running up to his daughter, that she said "Oh, my God," and then, "I pulled the trigger and the gun went off."
She started running "and I pulled the gun again. She fell down and I fell down. She said: `Daddy, stop! I'll tell the truth.' I pulled the trigger again. ... I tried to pull it again. There was no more bullets. I thought I was missing her all those times when I was shooting.
"I thought: Man, I really messed up. So I ran toward my truck."
He said he saw police cars and thought how quickly they had responded, saw his daughter in the street and moving.
"I just pushed down the gas, the accelerator. And I angled, fixed the truck toward (her) and I hit her."
Granger acknowledged signing a statement he made to police taking responsibility for the shootings but said detectives "just misquoted me. They didn't put it the way I wanted it."
Granger painted his daughter's mother as uncaring and mostly uninvolved in raising her and their son and said their daughter suffered mental problems that were the result of a smoke bomb set off in their home shortly after she was born. She moved out in her late teens.
"I blame her mother," he said of the sexual assault accusations.
His daughter was "not right in the head. Everybody's been manipulating her."
He said he bought what prosecutors have called an assault rifle from a drug dealing MS-13 gang member in Houston because he couldn't purchase a weapon legally
, the result of him being an accused sex offender.
The day of the shooting, he couldn't remember how he got to Beaumont from Houston. He also said he didn't remember taking hostages at a construction company a few blocks from the courthouse and where he was arrested. He disputed testimony of his former hostages.
Granger said all his gunfire from a 10-round magazine was directed at his daughter and that he couldn't say he ran her over with her truck on purpose although a video played in court confirmed it.
"I did it," he said. "You can't deny it. You can see it on the film."
Shettle also referred to numerous recorded conversations an angry Granger had from jail with relatives, where he threatened judges involved in his case but said the notoriety of the courthouse shooting had made him a "superstar" and "making Texas history." Granger accused the prosecutor of taking the conversations out of context.
Granger's daughter, 22, testified last week that she saw her father run toward her armed with the rifle and start shooting. Witnesses testified that Granger jumped into his pickup truck and ran over his daughter. She testified she didn't see the truck but felt it. She was severely injured and had been shot three times, and she spent three months in a coma.
One of Granger's attorneys, Sonny Cribbs, has said he thinks Granger will be convicted but that he hopes jurors don't sentence him to death.