Granger v. Dir., TDCJ-CID

Decision Date24 February 2023
Docket NumberCivil Action 1:17-CV-291
PartiesBARTHOLOMEW GRANGER, Petitioner, v. DIRECTOR, TDCJ-CID, Respondent.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Texas

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BARTHOLOMEW GRANGER, Petitioner,
v.

DIRECTOR, TDCJ-CID, Respondent.

Civil Action No. 1:17-CV-291

United States District Court, E.D. Texas

February 24, 2023


MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MARCIA A. CRONE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Petitioner Bartholomew Granger ("Granger"), a death row inmate confined in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, filed the above-styled and numbered petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He challenges his 2013 capital murder conviction and death sentence imposed by the 58th Judicial District Court of Jefferson County, Texas, in Cause Number 13-16388; The State of Texas vs. Bartholomew Granger. Ex parte Granger, No. WR-83,135-01, 2017 WL 3379285, at *l-2 (Tex. Crim. App. May 17, 2017) ("Ex parte Granger I”); Ex parte Granger, No. WR-83,135-02, 2020 WL 915434, at *1 (Tex. Crim. App. Feb. 26, 2020) (Ex parte Granger II). Granger was indicted (#48-3 at 6) and sentenced to death for killing Minnie Sebolt ("Sebolt") while retaliating against and intending to kill Claudia Jackson ("Claudia") due to her service as a witness in Granger's prior trial for sexual assault of a child.[1]For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that the petition should be DENIED.

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I. Background

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ("TCCA") summarized the factual background of the case as follows:

The record shows that, at the time of Seboldt's[2] [sic] death, [Granger] was on trial for sexual assault of a child-his then-twenty-year-old brain-damaged and learning-disabled daughter, Samantha Jackson. Samantha and her mother, Claudia Jackson, had testified against [Granger] on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 Samantha's cross-examination was to begin when trial resumed at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 14, and Rebecca Richard, [Granger]'s estranged wife, was under subpoena to testify
[Granger] arrived at the courthouse several hours early on Wednesday and parked his truck in a lot across the street. He periodically opened the truck's door and looked over it toward the street in front of the courthouse. When Samantha Claudia, and Richard arrived and began walking toward the courthouse, [Granger] approached and began shooting at them with a semi-automatic rifle.
Richard fled toward the parking lot and was not hit. Samantha, however, froze in place when the shooting began. [Granger] shot her multiple times and also ran over her with his truck before fleeing the scene. Nonetheless, Samantha survived. Claudia, who also survived the attack, was shot in the buttocks as she ran toward the courthouse. As she approached the courthouse, Claudia saw a bystander, later identified as Sebolt, lying on the ground in front of the courthouse doors. Sebolt suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died at the scene. Leslie King, another bystander who was in front of the courthouse, saw [Granger] turn his gun in her direction. King was wounded in the little finger as she heard bullets going past her.
Law enforcement officers shot and wounded [Granger] as he returned to his truck. [Granger] fled a short distance, then abandoned his vehicle and took hostages at a nearby business. He made a number of statements in which he incriminated himself as the shooter and blamed Samantha, Claudia, and Richard for his actions. Law enforcement officers took [Granger] into custody after his hostages overpowered him. [Granger] made additional incriminating statements while receiving medical care for his wounds.
[Granger] testified at both phases of his capital murder trial. At the guilt-innocence phase, he admitted to shooting Samantha and to intentionally running over her with his truck. However, he denied causing Sebolt's death or Claudia's and King's
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wounds. [Granger] claimed that he had not shot in the direction of the courthouse because he had used all of his bullets on Samantha. The jury found [Granger] guilty of capital murder as alleged in the indictment.

Ex parte Granger I, 2017 WL 3379285, at *l-2.

In addition to the facts of the crime presented during the guilt phase at trial, the State presented evidence at the punishment phase of the trial to demonstrate Granger's future dangerousness:

During the State's punishment case, the jury heard in graphic detail from Samantha [Jackson] that [Granger] began sexually molesting her when she was twelve years old because "he would rather show [her] how to have sex than let [her] go out on the streets and do it with someone else"; that he first had vaginal intercourse with her when she was about fourteen or fifteen; and that he also had anal intercourse with her. Samantha additionally testified that [Granger] was very controlling of her and that he physically and verbally abused both her and her younger brother, Bartholomew, Jr. Samantha denied that her mother, Claudia [Jackson], had told her to accuse [Granger] of molestation.
[Rebecca] Richard testified that, before she and [Granger] separated, he asked her to take Samantha to the doctor. [Granger] explained to Richard that Samantha had taken a shower while Richard was not home." [H]e had a towel on the floor in the bedroom where he had ejaculated and [Samantha] came in and grabbed the towel and went to dry off," and so [Granger] was afraid that she was pregnant. Richard acknowledged that Samantha denied that anyone had touched her and that she had not turned out to be pregnant. However, Richard and [Granger] separated soon after the incident.
The State also presented testimony from three jail guards and a jail nurse who had interacted with [Granger] while he was incarcerated awaiting trial for capital murder. Collectively, these witnesses testified that [Granger]: was extremely verbally abusive, directing racist, misogynistic, and homophobic epithets at them; engaged in other disruptive behavior that required jail[e]rs [to] use physical force and chemical measures to subdue him; and falsely alleged that other inmates had assaulted him by throwing their feces on him.
The jury additionally heard excerpts from numerous profanity-laced telephone calls [Granger] made from jail while awaiting trial. During these calls, [Granger] expressed threats, hatred, and a lack of remorse regarding virtually everyone associated with his sexual assault trial-especially Samantha and her mother-as well as hatred toward many other groups.

Ex parte Granger I, 2017 WL 3379285, at *l-2.

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Conversely, the defense presented nine witnesses, including Granger, in mitigation of punishment. See 27 Reporter's Record ("RR") 7-127; 28 RR 13-72. The TCCA summarized the remaining punishment evidence as follows:

Dr. Edward Gripon, a forensic psychiatrist who examined [Granger] multiple times as the date of the capital murder trial approached, testified that [Granger] was not psychotic. However, Gripon agreed that [Granger's thoughts and ideas were not always reasonable, logical, or coherent.
Gripon, who diagnosed [Granger] as having a paranoid personality disorder, testified that having a personality disorder was a factor that psychiatrists use when attempting to determine someone's risk of future dangerousness. Gripon also acknowledged that [Granger]'s jail phone calls were filled with ranting, threats, name-calling, and cursing. But on balance, Gripon concluded, [Granger] "was mostly a lot of talk." Gripon acknowledged that the courthouse shooting was an exception and reflected the violence of which [Granger] could be capable in certain circumstances. However, Gripon opined that [Granger's primary pattern was a verbal response to people and events he perceived negatively.
An inmate who had been housed near [Granger] while [Granger] was awaiting his capital murder trial testified that: [Granger] acted "normal" in jail; although [Granger] tried to leave other inmates alone, they harassed him; jail guards treated [Granger] badly; and [Granger] cursed at guards sometimes, but did not assault them. Another inmate who had been housed with [Granger] gave substantially similar testimony. However, on cross-examination, the second inmate acknowledged that he heard [Granger] admit to having sexually molested Samantha. The inmate's testimony about [Granger] 's admission was consistent with Richard's punishment phase testimony.[3]
Through the testimony of a pastor who visited [Granger] weekly in jail, trial counsel presented evidence that [Granger] "hated what had happened to" Sebolt. However, the pastor acknowledged that [Granger] never admitted that he killed Sebolt and he continued to express hatred for Samantha, Claudia, and Richard.
Through his direct examination testimony and the testimony of his parents, [Granger] presented evidence of his social history from birth through adolescence and adulthood. Through their questions, trial counsel also traced [Granger]'s educational, work, medical, and psychological history. At the end of his direct examination, [Granger], who had testified at the punishment phase against trial
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counsel's advice, gave non-responsive answers in which he stated that he wanted to receive the death penalty.
On cross-examination, [Granger] also stated that he wanted the death penalty. And, among other things, he denied having killed Sebolt and blamed the responding officers for her death; called Samantha a "liar" and "a whore"; and declared "[t]his is not a fucking court. This is a lynching of another nigger" by "a[n] all-white jury" with "one fucking jigaboo bitch." When the trial court called a recess and had him removed from the courtroom, [Granger] directed several mocking and profane remarks at the prosecutor while the jury was still present.
[Granger's testimony remained generally combative, profane, and mocking when his cross-examination resumed. He accused the State of having
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