Jury finds Emanuel Samson guilty on all 43 counts in Antioch Church shooting

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Davidson County Jury has found Emanuel Samson guilty of all 43 counts, including 1st-degree premeditated murder in the 2017 shooting rampage at Burnett Chapel Church of Christ. 

The jury considered 43 charges against him, ranging from 1st-degree murder to civil rights violations, attempted murder, and aggravated assault. 

Samson was found guilty of; 24 counts of aggravated assault, seven attempted first-degree murder charges, seven felony weapons charges, three counts of civil intimidation, first-degree murder, and reckless endangerment. 

The 27-year old man had his head down and did not look at the jury as they read the verdict.

The church minister, who has known Samson for years, said he wants to hear an apology. 

We as a group we haven’t heard I’m sorry yet.  Not from the attorneys, not from Mr. Samson, said Joey Spann. I’d still say I’m sorry. Because I’d be sorry that it happened.

The sentencing hearing was started Friday but adjourned for the day. Jurors will come back Tuesday to decide the punishment for Samson’s Premeditated murder charge. Because the charge carries an enhanced punishment, the hearing must be held separately from the other 42 counts. The maximum sentence for the charge is life without parole. 

It’s the only first-degree murder charge Samson is facing. 39-year-old Melanie Crow Smith was the only victim killed in the shooting. 

Defense attorney Jennifer Thompson maintained that Samson is mentally ill and has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, as well as post-traumatic stress after a violent childhood. Thompson said he was suicidal, not homicidal. She argued for criminally negligent homicide, not murder

Prosecutors sought life without parole. They said he conveniently invoked mental illness to avoid responsibility for the shooting spree. They honed in on all the times Samson said he did not remember shooting anyone, except himself. 

In an effort to contradict his testimony, they played a recording of a jailhouse phone call between Samson and his former girlfriend, Maya Hill, in which he was laughing and joking about the shooting.

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