Jailhouse phone calls likely helped lead to conviction of Antioch church shooter

Posted at 1:21 PM, May 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-30 20:07:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Antioch Church shooting ended with a conviction on all counts and now we are learning more about the devastating jailhouse phone calls that helped send Emanuel Samson to prison for life.

Did those recorded calls between Samson and his girlfriend make or break the case? No, but there's no question those calls helped seal his fate.

"He was not a difficult prisoner or problem for us," said Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall in his first public comments about Samson, one of his jail's most high-profile inmates.

Samson may not have caused problems because he was constantly on the phone – more than 1500 calls, all of which became evidence for the prosecution.

Sheriff Hall said inmates are told before every call they are being recorded.

But they seem to forget.

"The first day they are cautious about coding language, but eventually you get relaxed or complacent and you talk about all types of things," said Hall.

In calls with his girlfriend, Samson does not specifically talk about the church shooting.

But the two do talk, for instance, about how he looked on TV after his arrest – some say showing a blatant disrespect for the victims.

"So, I was looking that good? Was I on flow? Was I looking on flow," asked Samson in one call.

"You looked stout as f***. You were taller than the usual person," responded his girlfriend.

"Yeah, I was towering over them. Y'ah [sic] feel me? Big sexy hashtag," said Samson.

Samson's attorney Jennifer Thompson acknowledged the calls may have angered the jury.

"We knew there were some phone calls," said Thompson.

They were just another layer of evidence in an already strong case that led to a conviction.

"I can't imagine he wasn't crushed by what he heard on the phone," said Sheriff Hall of Samson.

Many have wondered since Samson claimed not to remember the shooting why he did not apologize to the victims at trial. That may have been a strategy for the defense, hoping to earn sympathy from the jurors.

But after the disturbing calls were played in open court, Samson couldn't apologize with any credibility. Why? Because nowhere in those recorded calls did he ever express any remorse.

Samson is expected to be moved from the Davidson County Jail by early next month into the state prison system to begin serving his life sentence without parole.

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