Accused Waffle House shooter may try to represent himself at trial

Posted at 3:04 PM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-22 19:36:51-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The criminal prosecution is moving forward against accused Waffle House shooter Travis Reinking.

And now there are questions about a potential behind-the-scenes conflict for the legal defense.

Reinking has pleaded not guilty and Newschannel 5 has learned he may insist on representing himself if and when this case goes to trial.

A mental evaluation found Reinking competent to stand trial.

So, what are his plans?

In the days after his arrest, before his mental evaluation, Reinking called Newschannel 5's Nick Beres from his jail cell. He talked about his mental fitness.

"Yeah, no ... I'm perfectly healthy," said Reinking.

And he made it clear, despite two court-appointed attorneys -- he wanted to handle his own legal defense.

"That's the thing. I'm choosing to represent myself. I don't know how that works. I didn't like those attorneys," said Reinking last year.

Reinking now has a new legal team, but there's still a chance he could decide to be his own attorney.

"You do have the right to represent yourself," said legal analyst Nick Leonardo, but he added it's unlikely with such serious charges a judge would allow Reinking -- who has no legal background -- to handle his own case.

And if Reinking objects?

"They can have a trial in absentia and leave him in a holding cell with a little speaker and conduct the trial without him present," said Leonardo.

That would only happen in extreme circumstances. Leonardo said the bottom line is that the judge must make sure Reinking has competent lawyers.

Otherwise, if convicted he could appeal, arguing that he had a poor legal defense - namely himself.

A trial date has not yet been set in the case.