NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The judge of the fatal Antioch church shooting issued a sweeping gag order for all involved, pointing to social and political issues linked to so-called "mass shooting" cases.
The gag order does not keep the media from reporting on the high-profile church shooting case, but keeps attorneys and others directly involved from commenting to the media about the case.
It was made in an effort to insure a fair trial.
"Obviously, it's is a very serious case. First degree murder and the the death penalty is in play," said attorney Jim Todd, who is not involved but has closely followed the case.
Metro police said Emanuel Samson admitted to shooting up Burnett Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch last September, killing 39-year-old Melanie Crow and injuring seven others.
Yet, he's expected to plead not guilty. The case appears to be headed for trial where Samson's mental health will be a key issue. Samson will undergo mental evaluations.
Those results and other developments will all be kept under wraps after the judge issued the gag order.
"Given the seriousness of the charges, the nature of the alleged offenses and the social and political issues which surround alleged "mass shooting" cases. The biggest part of the case is the battle of the experts when it comes to insanity or diminished capacity," said Todd.
The judge wants to ensure a fair trial and she is now prohibiting any comment about Samson's sanity or anything else that could influence a jury before trial.
It's important to note this order does not keep the media from covering new developments inside the courtroom. Lawyers can talk there, but no chit-chat with reporters on the case outside of court.