ANGLETON — Frank Seidule waited 30 minutes to call authorities after shooting his roommate to death in November 2017, he told a Brazoria County Sheriff’s dispatcher.
The first calls he made were to his lawyer and father, 93-year-old Arnold Seidule, who sat in the gallery behind his son during his first-degree felony murder trial Tuesday.
Seidule, 58, said his roomate, 36-year-old Lewis Watson, threatened to kill him multiple times before he shot him on Nov. 7, 2017. Seidule pleaded not guilty to murder.
A Brazoria County jury of nine women and five men, two who will serve as alternates, are tasked with deciding his guilt or innocence.
Seidule had short hair and a mustache but no beard when he appeared in the 239th District Court on Tuesday, in stark contrast to the long beard and hair he had in the mug shot after his October 2018 arrest on a murder charge, 11 months after the shooting. He wore a suit and tie in court, unlike the underwear and T-shirt shown on officers’ cameras after he shot Watson.
Defense attorney Jeff Purvis said the jury should keep an open mind and consider self-defense in this case.
“When it’s over with, when you’ve heard all the evidence, you’ll think, ‘Gosh, I have a reasonable doubt about whether or not this is murder,’” Purvis said during his opening statement.
There are facts no one disputes in this case, Prosecutor Brian Hrach said in his opening statement.
Brazoria County sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported shooting at about 6:30 a.m. Nov. 7, 2017, in the 1300 block of Sixth Street, investigators said. They found Watson’s body riddled with seven shots and covered by plastic, Hrach said.
None of the seven shots went through Watson’s front side, he said.
“As Lewis Watson is on the floor dying and Frank Seidule shoots him on the right side of the head ... when he is already incapacitated, that killed him instantly,” Hrach said. “Also undisputed is that Lewis did not have a gun.”
Watson was “no angel” and had been convicted of misdemeanor assault against Seidule in 2010, Hrach said.
“It is what it is, but absolutely nothing that happened on Nov. 7, 2017 ... nothing allowed him to do what he did,” Hrach said. “Nothing allowed Frank to shoot him seven times.”
When Seidule called the sheriff’s non-emergency phone line, he told dispatcher Jenny Hackney he needed an officer sent to his house, according to the recording played for the jury.
“I had to kill a man because he kept threatening to kill me,” Seidule said in the recording.
Watson’s mother, Belinda Sparkman, consistently looked over at Seidule as the audio and video recordings played. She chose to stay in the courtroom while autopsy pictures were shown, despite having tears in her eyes.
Seidule told sheriff’s investigator Dominick Sanders he shot Watson with a 9mm Taurus handgun after Watson threatened to kill him, held a sawed-off shotgun to his head, shot Seidule’s television and window and assaulted him two nights earlier.
“He was kinda washing dishes and stuff, over by the sink,” Seidule said of when he began shooting Watson. “I never thought I would ever shoot him … but when a guy puts a gun to your face, what do you do?”
Purvis warned jurors they might hear Seidule’s story change, but said that can happen after a traumatic event and jurors should wait to learn about the circumstances of the relationship.
“Keep an open mind about the evidence,” Purvis said.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. today in the 239th District courtroom at Brazoria County Courthouse.