Antioch church shooter Emanuel Samson sentenced to life without parole

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Jurors returned a sentence of life without parole for  Antioch church shooter Emanuel Samson who was convicted last week of first-degree premeditated murder.  

Samson, 27, now faces spending the rest of his life in prison or the 2017 shooting that left one woman dead and six others wounded.  

On Friday, he was found guilty of all 43 charges, including first-degree premeditated murder in the 2017 shooting rampage at Burnett Chapel Church of Christ. 

The jury considered all the charges against him, ranging from civil rights violations to attempted murder, and aggravated assault. 

MORE: Accused church shooter says he has mental illness, ‘doesn’t remember’ attack

Samson kept 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.

Because the premeditated murder charge carries an enhanced punishment, Tuesday’s 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. Thirty-nine-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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