Accused Waffle House shooter a few months from trial

Insanity will likely be his defense
Judge rules on civil suit against Travis Reinking
Posted at 2:49 PM, Sep 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 21:11:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The deadly shooting at a Waffle House was a mass shooting that left Nashville stunned. But the search for justice has been repeatedly delayed.

Travis Reinking, the accused Waffle House shooter, remains locked up more than three years after the crime but still no trial.

It appears he finally will be headed to court soon unless there's a plea deal. Reinking is locked up in isolation in the Davidson County jail.

On those rare occasions he's around others, he says little if anything. But, he remains intent on having his day in court.

The now 32-year-old Reinking is accused of killing four at a Waffle House in Antioch in April of 2018. Now, more than three years later, the trial is just months away.

There's no indication of a plea deal and NewsChannel 5 has learned the trial will be held in February though prosecutors won't confirm because the case is under seal.

One question between now and then will be the state of Reinking's sanity. After his arrest, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was immediately sent to a mental health facility.

Six months later, Reinking returned to the jail, deemed fit to stand trial. At the time he called me from his cell to talk "About what I'm thinking and what I'd like to say on my behalf and stuff like that," said Reinking.

I asked him if he was mentally fit. He responded, "Yeah, no ... I'm perfectly healthy."

Maybe so. But, his mental fitness will likely be at the heart of Reinking's defense since the evidence against him is overwhelming. Reinking may be sane now, but what about at the time of the shooting.

"What the lawyers will probably argue is that while he's okay now with medication and therapy he wasn't at the time of the crime. Therefore he was insane at that moment," said attorney David Raybin who is not involved in the case.

Historically, insanity defenses in Tennessee are very rarely, if ever, successful. A gag order remains in place with the files sealed.

But, we do know this -- prosecutors have already announced they will not be seeking the death penalty in this case. Here is a timeline of all the major events in the case from the shooting and arrest to prosecutors' decision to not seek the death penalty.

A lot has happened in the almost three and a half years since the attack. In the aftermath-- there was a major change to Metro's emergency communications.

A lawsuit was filed against the city after dispatchers originally sent first responders to the wrong Waffle House.

Just last year, Metro agreed to a more stringent reporting and review process if an employee error results in injury or death. And Reinking is expected to go on trial early next year.

A hearing to likely set a specific date for the trial is scheduled for next month.