Antioch church members prepare for difficult trial

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Next week means painful memories for the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ as the trial is set to begin for the suspected mass shooter at the church in 2017.

This is a day members of the church knew was coming, but knowing it doesn’t make it any easier.

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Some members of the church will be taking a bus for the trial. Some will be there to testify, the rest will be there to support them through all the pain of taking the stand.

It’s been almost two years since Emanuel Samson opened fire in the Antioch church.

One person was killed and six others were injured in the attack in September 2017.

Since then, the congregation has struggled with moving forward.

Some people have left the church because they couldn’t face the difficult memories, and it hasn’t been easy for those who have stuck through it.

“Everyone is still dealing with it,” said Joey Spann, the minister at the church who was also shot on that day. “Time hasn’t taken away the baggage, and it’s being brought back up again now.”

For many of the congregation at the trial, this will be the first time they’ve seen Samson face-to-face since police said he fired shots in the church.

Regardless of the jury’s decision in the case, Spann said this will not be the end of the community’s struggles.

“What I’ve noticed in the last two years, I don’t think there is a final chapter,” said Spann. “I don’t think it happens. Stuff reopens it constantly.”

Spann said they have been mentally preparing for this trial, but there’s no excitement around potentially getting justice. They mostly feel dread of having to go through it all again.

Last month a psychiatrist diagnosed Samson with multiple mental illnesses.

Prosecutors want Samson to serve live in prison without the possibility of parole.

The process to pick a jury began on Wednesday.

Questionnaires were handed out for potential jurors to fill out.

The jury will be from Davidson County as an out-of-town jury was not requested. The jury will not be sequestered.

The 12-person jury will likely be picked next week. The trial could last 2-3 weeks.

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