Judge sentences Antioch church shooter to life without parole, plus nearly 300 years


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — UPDATE: Emanuel Samson has been sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 281 years to be served consecutively.

Samson shot and killed a woman and injured several others at an Antioch church nearly 2 years ago, was sentenced with additional charges Tuesday.

It was an emotional day in the courtroom as a number of victims from Burnette Chapel Church of Christ gave witness impact statements.

“Just running and hearing that gunfire, I could almost play it on a xylophone for you wondering when the rounds where going to stop,” Rhonda Langford told the courtroom. 

September 24th, 2017 is a nightmare they are all still living. 

“Stepping into the foyer with all the bodies, and the moaning and walking past Joey and like Sandy said there was nothing in his eyes,” Sandra Lee Reed described of her pastor. 

Minister Joey Spann was one of many shot by the masked gunman that day after he’d already killed church member Melanie Crow in the parking lot. 

“Those things just stay with you and they are the nightmares you have of people wounded, blood and gunfire and trying to escape,” stated Langford. 

7 victims bravely recounted that day again, just feet from the shooter with hopes of assuring that Samson is locked away in a cell forever.

“I hope at some point while you are dealing with these consequence you can sit down, pull yourself together and think about why you had to do this to people who loved you,” Bailey Engle said as she read a letter to Samson out loud in the courtroom. 

Samson occasionally looking up making eye contact, but generally showing no emotion to the victims or the judge as she sentenced him to nearly 300 consecutive additional years to life without parole.

While the victims now feel some closure, they will always wonder “why.”

“What you did is your responsibility. You decided to do it and I will never understand why. I forgave you a long time ago, but i can’t forget this,” Engle said with tears in her eyes while staring into Samson’s face. 

After the sentencing survivors were hugging and celebrating the judge’s decision.

“This is the end of a very, very traumatic, senseless episode that I think shows the true strength and courage of the good in people, that was brought out by these people,” Deputy District Attorney Roger Moore told News 2.

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