Emanuel Samson listens to the testimony during the decisive phase of his trial on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. Samson was convicted of murder for the shooting of a Nashville church in 2017. He faces life in prison for the killing of Melanie Crow and injuring seven other people on Burnette Chapel Church of Christ. (Larry McCormack/The Tennessean via AP, Pool)
NASHVILLE, Tennessee. – A Tennessee jury, in consultation less than two hours Tuesday for the sentencing of the man who shot a Nashville church in 2017 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
On Friday, the jury found Emanuel Kidega Samson guilty of murder in the death of Melanie Crow. Samson also seven others are injured during his rampage will be sentenced to an additional 42 counts in July, although the sentences are largely symbolic.
During the decisive phase of Samson’s trial on Tuesday, a psychiatrist testified that Samson suffered from severe mental illness. That evidence had been suppressed during the guilt phase of the trial, because they do not meet the criteria for an insanity defense
Forensic psychiatrist Stephen Montgomery found Samson’s illness did not get him can premediate his actions or stop him from appreciating their wrongfulness.
According to previous testimony, Sept. 24, 2017, Samson left his engine running as he stepped into the parking lot of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ wearing a motorcycle-style clown mask and a tactical vest.
He shot and killed the Crow, they walked to her car for a cough drop, scattering her Bible and her notes from the church. Samson followed by a rain of bullets in the church that he once visited.
In Samson’s car, investigators found a note that suggested the shooting was payback for 2015 a massacre in a South Carolina black church. Samson is black and his victims were white.
Psychiatrist Montgomery, in pre-recorded testimony played for the jury Tuesday, said the note was bizarre because there was nothing else in the 27-year-old history indicated racial hatred or ideology.
Montgomery said Samson being treated for schizoaffective disorder and probably suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from a childhood spent in a refugee camp in Africa and then a wrong house in the United States.
Lawyer Jennifer Lynn Thompson had argued for leniency, saying that even with parole, Samson would be 76 years old before he leave prison. In closing arguments, they suggested to the jury that the “real Mr. Samson” was polite, kind and helpful, as some people recalled his behavior in the years before the murder.
Assistant district Attorney Amy Hunter said the judges must not forget Samson victims, including those who witnessed the shooting, but were unharmed.
Hunter said that she wants judges to remember: “the children are now afraid to come back to the church — the children who say: ‘If I go to church today, I’m dead?”