Emanuel Kidega Samson planned and carried out a brutal mass shooting that killed a woman and terrorized her Antioch church, leaving its members with scars seen and unseen, a jury ruled Friday.
The unanimous jury of 12 found Samson, 27, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Melanie Crow, who was walking through the parking lot of Burnette Chapel Church of Christ with her Bible and sermon notes in hand when Samson shot her three times in the back and once in the face.
Samson also was found guilty on a slate of 42 other charges, including attempted murder for injuring seven other church members, three counts of civil rights intimidation and 24 counts of aggravated assault.
The verdict was a resounding victory for prosecutors, who said at trial that Samson, who is black, planned to kill 10 white churchgoers in retaliation for a 2015 church shooting in which nine black worshipers were slain.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life without parole for the first-degree murder charge. The trial jury will consider the sentence at a separate hearing. Sentencing on the other counts will be determined by Judge Cheryl Blackburn.
Samson’s attorneys already have begun preparations for an appeal.
Terror inside the church: ‘He’s killing everybody’
Prosecutors had overwhelming evidence against Samson.
He arrived at Burnette Chapel, a church he once attended, on Sept. 24, 2017 with guns, a knife and a stockpile of ammunition.
He wore a tactical vest and a white mask with a pink smile painted across the mouth.
He left his SUV running in the parking lot with a note on the dashboard that mentioned “vengeance” for Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.
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SOURCE: USA Today; Nashville Tennessean, Adam Tamburin