Accused Waffle House shooter set to stand trial, could plead insanity

travis reinking in court
Posted at 3:48 PM, Jan 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 08:24:38-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — He's accused of a shooting rampage at an Antioch Waffle House that killed four.

Now four years later, Travis Reinking will finally face a judge and jury.

In court, he was deemed fit to stand trial, and yet NewsChannel 5 has learned he will seek the insanity defense.

This was the first time in nearly four years anyone has seen Travis Reinking.

He's been locked up, through lawyer changes, the pandemic and mental evaluations.

Now his trial is finally about to begin.

The first step was this hearing.

Reinking looks different — fully bearded and he's put on considerable weight since his arrest in 2018.

At that 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," Reinking said.

I asked him if he was mentally fit.

"Yeah, no ... I'm perfectly healthy," he replied.

Those words from this exclusive interview might come back to haunt Reinking.

This is a man accused of walking in half-naked and shooting up an Antioch Waffle House — killing four and injuring two others.

After his arrest, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was sent to a mental health facility.

Eventually, he was deemed fit to stand trial, which brings everyone to today.

Attorneys and Judge Mark Fishburn discussed plans for jury selection which begins Tuesday, and the gag order remains in place.

"I've got two motions filed under seal by the state. Any by the defense?" Fishburn asked. "No, your honor," said Paul Bruno, attorney for Reinking.

Motions are sealed, but NewsChannel 5 has learned that the Reinking's attorneys will, in fact, argue the insanity defense.

The argument is he may be sane now, but he wasn't at the time of the shooting.

"Competency is a moving target at trial. It determines if the person is presently able to defend himself in a court of law," said legal analyst David Raybin.

When you consider there is no question Reinking is the shooter — the evidence against him is overwhelming with security video and eyewitnesses — this may be his only option.

But proving he didn't know right from wrong will be a tall order — especially when you consider Reinking ran and led authorities on a 34-hour manhunt after the shooting.

Jury selection is expected to take all this week.

The trial will begin next Monday.