State, defense rest in retrial of Zavalla man accused in stabbing death

State, defense rest in retrial of Zavalla man accused in stabbing death
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - State and defense attorneys made their closing arguments in the retrial for the Zavalla man accused in the 2015 stabbing death of Jesse Keller on Wednesday.

Jurors will return to court Thursday to decide Tommy Lee Granger's guilt or innocence.

Granger, 29, is being re-tried for first-degree murder in Judge Bob Inselmann's 217th Judicial District Court. Back in September, an Angelina County jury deadlocked on a verdict, and Inselmann declared a mistrial.

In her closing arguments, Deborah Moore, an assistant district attorney for Angelina County, told the jury that they did not need to leave their common sense at the door, and they needed to think about all the facts. Moore said Granger had intent to do bodily harm.

"Ladies and gentlemen, when you stab someone in the heart, there is intent to do harm," Moore said. "You don't do that to not have the intent to cause harm."

Moore said Jesse Keller hit Granger but he never pulled out a weapon. Moore said Granger was the one that pulled out the weapon and used it. Moore brought up the drug culture and talked about how Granger was not a clean person.

Al Charanza, Granger's defense attorney, said that Granger did not do anything to Keller that was murder.

"Think of your family," Charanza said. "Would you want them to defend themselves because that is what Granger did."

Charanza said that Granger did what anyone would do, and he was not trying to kill Keller. Charanza pointed out that based on the stab wounds it was clear he was trying to defend himself and not make direct strikes.

"If this is over a bag of clothes, that is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard," Charanza said. "It is about Keller being upset and jealous that Granger was trying to help Keller's wife."

Charanza said that Granger is a good person and helped many people in the community. He added that most of this happened because of a plan by Mitchell and Keller's wife, Rachael.

"It is not unusual for Granger to have a knife in his pocket," Charanza said. "He had it as an heirloom from his dad and to tinker around with. If he did not have that knife that night, it would have been a stick or something else. He was defending himself. It was fight or flight, and he fought and then took off. If it wasn't for the knife, he might be dead."

Charanza said that Granger was not a confrontational person. Charanza pointed out that Granger cooperated with law enforcement and told the sheriff's office that he was just defending himself and he said it numerous times in his questioning by detectives.

"It is sad to say but Jessie Keller is responsible for his own death," Charanza said. "What you need to do is go to this last page on the verdict forum and sign not guilty."

Prosecutor Tommy Jackson then approached the jury and stated that there was an intent to kill Keller.

"Anyone of those stabs is dangerous to human life," Jackson said. "Whether it is the gut or two stabs to the heart. If you want to get self-defense, you have to play ball and give up something. That is saying, 'I did it but..."

Jackson said he did not dispute that Keller was upset because his wife was cheating on him with another man.

"The way this life works out there is no one dies," Jackson said. "You take your butt whooping and you walk away and deal with it. Nobody dies."

Jackson pointed out that Granger initiated the incident because he walked towards them.

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