Samson takes stand in church shooting trial; legal analyst weighs in on strategy

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There was a twist in the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ shooting trial Wednesday, as Emanuel Samson took the stand in his own defense. 

Samson faces 43 charges, including first-degree murder. 

He described to the jury his mental health prior to the shooting. Samson has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and PTSD. 

“Waking up, and just wanting to end my life,” said Samson. “I was extremely depressive, and I felt kinda numb.”

Samson taking the stand was a surprise to legal analyst, and Nashville attorney Rob McKinney. 

“The right to testify, that is his right alone. He makes that decision to testify or not testify under our rules,” he explained. “It could be used to humanize him before the jury, make him a real person.”

When pressed on the crimes he’s accused of, Samson didn’t deny anything but claimed he didn’t remember the shootings. 

Prosecutors say though he did show up at the church with a gun, tactical vest, and a mask. 

McKinney told News 2, the move for the defense may be to try and lessen the murder charge and shorten any possible prison time. 

“Try to aim for a 2nd-degree murder case, that’s not premeditated,” he said. “Lesser time, 15-25. so maybe they’re fighting over years.”

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