Emanuel Samson found guilty on all counts, including first-degree murder

Sentencing hearing begins
Posted at 7:05 AM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 23:55:20-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Emanuel Samson has been found guilty on all 43 counts, including premeditated first-degree murder, in the Antioch church shooting trial.

After hearing closing arguments on Thursday, the jury only had about an hour to deliberate before wrapping for the day. Jurors resumed early Friday morning and returned a verdict shortly after 1 p.m.
Samson faced 43 charges in the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch on September 24, 2017. He was found guilty on every charge.

Melanie Crow, age 39, was fatally shot in the church parking lot. Several others were injured, including Minister Joey Spann and usher Robert Engle, who was able to subdue the gunman until police arrived.

After the verdict was read, Minister Spann addressed the media, saying church members felt "good about [the verdict]," adding that he thought the evidence was solid.

"We as a group have not heard 'I'm sorry one time,'" Spann said.

The sentencing hearing began Friday afternoon after the verdict was reached. Three people testified for the State: Bridget Polson, Melanie Crow’s sister, Amy Miner, Crow's best friend and minister Joey Spann.

“melanie touched and left an impression on everyone she met," said Polson.

They each talked about how Melanie's death impacted their lives and the lives of their family and church.

"RJ [her son] is so traumatized that he doesn't want to leave his father's side...he asks every time they go to church if he's going to die," said Polson.

Samson's sister, Christiana Samson, testified on behalf of her brother. She told the jury about her and Emanuel's rough childhood, saying her mother was abusive and their father was an alcoholic and also abusive.

At the beginning of her testimony, the attorney paused questioning for a moment to ask that their father, be removed from the courtroom.

"Is that your father that your father that stepped out of the courtroom?" the attorney asked.

"Yes," Christina replied.

Will it be easier for you to testify without him in here?" the attorney asked.

"Yes," Christina replied.

She also told the jury she cut Emanuel out of her life after he tried to commit suicide in 2017. She came to tears during questioning saying that if she had responded to Emanuel following that decision the shooting wouldn't have happened.

"He was crying out for help, and as an older sister I wasn't there," she said through tears.

She said she now understands that he was suffering from mental illness, but at the time it was something she didn't believe.

"I was being selfish at the time, because I did't believe that either. I gues I just wanted him to suck it up and get over it," Christina said.

Court was dismissed at 4:15 to resume Tuesday at 9 a.m. The Defense will call a few more people to the stand before the jury makes their sentencing decision.

Samson took the stand Wednesday, saying he wasn't in the right state of mind when the shooting occurred. On Thursday, the prosecution played six phone calls he made in jail between Samson and his then-girlfriend, Maya Hill, that made it appear that he was curious about the media coverage.

NewsChannel 5 obtained the following transcript of the conversation played in court:

Samson: "So I was looking that good? Was I on flow? Was I looking on flow?"

Hill: "Aye you was looking stout as f***, you were tall as s***, uh you look taller than the usual person honestly, uh eh you look."

Samson: "Yeah I was towering over them f*** a*****, hell yeah, ya [sic] feel me?"

Hill: "And, and."

Samson: "Big sexy hashtag, hashtag."

Hill: "You really were, yeah you really were, And then on top of that your face just looked completely 110% unbothered like it didn’t look like you had been crying or hysterical, you just look 100% calm."

Samson: "Unfazed."

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