US

Tennessee Church Shooter Gets Extra 291 Years in Prison

By The Associated Press

A man imprisoned for life for shooting up a Tennessee church in 2017 has had 291 years added onto his sentence.

The Tennessean reports Emanuel Kidega Samson was sentenced on Sept. 3 on an additional 42 counts including attempted murder and civil rights intimidation.

Judge Cheryl Blackburn read aloud each offense against attendees of the Nashville church, describing the attack as terrorism.

Judge Cheryl Blackburn listens to testimony
Judge Cheryl Blackburn listens to testimony during the sentencing phase of Emanuel Samson’s trial Tuesday, May 28, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. Samson was convicted of murder for shooting up a Nashville church in 2017. He faces life in prison for killing Melanie Crow and wounding seven other people at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ. (Larry McCormack/The Tennessean via AP, Pool)

The 27-year-old man was sentenced in May to life without parole for murdering Melanie Crow, who was shot in the head as she walked to the church.

Defense attorney Jennifer Thompson said Samson wanted to apologize on Tuesday, but suffered “incredible stage fright” and stayed silent.

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.

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 for a cough drop, scattering her Bible and her notes from church. 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.

Psychiatrist 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 United States.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Hunter said the jurors should remember Samson’s victims, including those who witnessed the shooting but were uninjured.

Hunter said she wants jurors to remember “the children who are now afraid to come back to church — the children who say, ’If I go to church today, am I going to die?”