Tennessee Church Shooter Learns His Fate

Emanuel Samson gets life without parole
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2019 12:45 AM CDT
Tennessee Church Shooter Gets Life Without Parole
Emanuel Kidega Samson testifies in his own defense Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn.   (Shelley Mays/The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

A Tennessee jury deliberated less than two hours Tuesday before sentencing the man who shot up 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 injured seven others during his rampage and will be sentenced on an additional 42 counts in July. During the sentencing phase of Samson's trial on Tuesday, a psychiatrist testified Samson suffered from severe mental illness. That evidence had been suppressed during the guilt phase of the trial because it did not meet the criteria for an insanity defense. Forensic psychiatrist Stephen Montgomery found Samson's illness did not make him unable to premediate his actions or stop him from appreciating their wrongfulness, the AP reports.

According to earlier testimony, on Sept. 24, 2017, Samson left his motor 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 Crow as she walked to her car. Samson then followed up with a hail of bullets inside the church that he once attended. In Samson's car, investigators found a note that suggested the shooting was payback for a 2015 massacre at a South Carolina black church. Samson is black and his victims were white. Montgomery, in prerecorded testimony played for the jury Tuesday, said the note was bizarre because nothing else in the 27-year-old's history indicated racial hatred or ideology. Montgomery said Samson is being treated for schizoaffective disorder and likely also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from a childhood spent in a refugee camp in Africa and then an abusive home in the US. (Police said a church usher was the one who "stopped the madness.")

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