NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — On Friday night, a jury of 12 people found Travis Reinking on 16 counts against him in the 2018 Waffle House shooting.
The deliberation began around 1:15 p.m. on Friday. Around 3:30 p.m., the jury came back with a question.
"What is the definition of wrongfulness? Are we to hold someone mentally ill as the same definition legally?" the jury asked.
The judge reread the jury charge back to the members.
Before the dinner break, the jury delivered their verdict.
On Friday morning, the prosecution and defense delivered their closing arguments. The evidence phase of the trial ended Thursday, after four days of testimony from witnesses, family members of the victims, various law enforcement officers and medical experts. Reinking waived his right to testify.
The jury consists of 10 women and 2 men. The group is made up of two Black women, one Asian woman, one Black man, seven white women and one white man. They have been sequestered for a week.
Two jury members, a Black woman and a white woman, were chosen at random to be alternates and were released from duty.
Judge Mark Fishburn instructed the jury to deliberate as late as they would like on Friday. Deliberations, and possibly the sentencing phase, will continue on Saturday.
Over the past five days, the main debate has not been whether or not Reinking walked into the Waffle House, opened fire and killed four people – rather if was he insane when he did it.
Reinking pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 16 charges. His attorneys must prove with “clear and convincing evidence” that he was insane during the shooting.
Under state law, there are two legal prongs jurors must conclude for Reinking's insanity defense to succeed. First, Reinking "was unable to appreciate the nature or wrongfulness" of his acts. Second, that inability was "as a result of a severe mental disease or defect."
If the jury decides Reinking did not know his actions are wrong, he will be found not guilty by reason of insanity. If found guilty of all 16 counts, Reinking faces a potential life in prison sentence.
Below is a breakdown of the counts:
Four counts of first-degree murder, premeditated in the deaths of Joe Perez, Jr. Taurean Sanderlin, Akilah Dasilva and DeEbony Groves.
- If the jury finds Reinking not guilty by reason of insanity, they may consider lesser charges of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.
Two counts of attempted first-degree murder with serious bodily injury, premeditated, of Shantia Waggoner and Sharita Henderson.
- If the jury finds Reinking not guilty by reason of insanity, they may consider lesser charges of attempted first-degree murder — premeditated, attempted second-degree murder or attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Two counts of attempted first-degree murder, premeditated of Kayla Shaw and James Shaw, Jr.
- If the jury finds Reinking not guilty by reason of insanity, they may consider lesser charges of attempted second-degree murder or attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Four counts of employment of a firearm during commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony, in relation to Shantia Waggoner, Sharita Henderson, Kayla Shaw and James Shaw, Jr.
Four counts of first-degree murder, felony murder for the deaths of Joe Perez Jr., Taurean Sanderlin, Akilah Dasilva and DeEbony Groves
- If the jury finds Reinking not guilty by reason of insanity, they may consider a lesser charge of second-degree murder
In closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Roger Moore used charged language, saying Reinking "blew Joe Perez's brains out" and "gunned down Taurean Sanderlin, like he was on some hunting expedition."
Moore argued Reinking "terminated" the rights of the victim's parents. When speaking on Reinking's schizophrenia diagnosis, Moore claimed Reinking knew for several years and "chose not to do anything about it."
Moore referenced drawings Reinking made of the Waffle House shooting on a jail meal tray, saying the drawings indicated he knew that the nature of what he did was wrong.
In his argument, Moore laid out the facts of the shooting.
Defense attorney Paul Bruno then argued Reinking is not blameless in the Waffle House shooting, but that because of his delusions and schizophrenia, he should be held not guilty by reason of insanity.
Bruno said, "you could see the madness" in the YouTube video Reinking posted of himself, which was shown to the jury on Thursday.
After a brief break, Assistant District Attorney Ronald Dowdy focused on the victims, reminding the jury of the lives lost and destroyed.
Dowdy them argued that Reinking's planning was not the work of an insane man, but of a miserable man who wanted to take his anger out on others.
At the conclusion of his arguments, Dowdy pulled out a magazine and one by one loaded it with bullets, repeating the names of each victim as he loaded a round.
Previous trial coverage:
Day 1: Opening arguments, prosecution begins
James Shaw Jr. recounts wrestling gun away from Travis Reinking
Day 2: Prosecution calls victim, various law enforcement officers to testify
Day 3: Prosecution calls final witness before resting its case
Travis Reinking wrote he was being hacked, possibly delusional in letters to Taylor Swift, Oprah
Day 3: Defense calls its first witness, a forensic psychologist, to testify on Reinking's mental health
Day 4: Defense calls second psychologist, state calls rebuttal witnesses
On jail meal tray, Reinking drew depiction of Waffle House shooting
Day 5: Closing arguments, jury hears charges then begins deliberation
TIMELINE OF WAFFLE HOUSE SHOOTING CASE
April 22, 2018: Four people are killed and four others wounded when a gunman opens fire at an Antioch Waffle House around 3:30 a.m.
Metro Nashville Police Department officials named 29-year-old Travis Reinking, from Illinois, as a person of interest in the shooting, saying the vehicle the gunman used was registered to him.
MNPD officers, to include SWAT, have continued the search for Travis Reinking in the Antioch area overnight. There have been no credible sightings. The search will continue. All schools in the area have been cleared by officers. He was last seen Sun morn behind his apt complex. pic.twitter.com/ChY1ihCdKG— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 23, 2018
April 23, 2018: Reinking is taken into custody
After a tense, 34-hour manhunt, Reinking is arrested in a wooded area near Old Hickory Boulevard and Hobson Pike.
The area in which Travis Reinking was apprehended was the subject of aerial and canine searches Sunday and ground searches earlier today. His movements since the shooting are unknown. Reinking refused to give a statement to detectives. pic.twitter.com/F36lxQz6mz— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) April 23, 2018
He’s been in custody ever since and is now at the new Davidson County jail.
August 2018: Reinking deemed not competent to stand trial
A mental evaluation finds that Reinking is not competent to stand trial. Reinking, diagnosed with schizophrenia, is checked into the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute for evaluation.
A judge later deems him fit for trial and he's indicted on 16 counts, including murder.
Below is the list of charges:
- Four counts of first-degree murder, premeditated — in the deaths of Joe Perez Jr., Taurean Sanderlin, Akilah Dasilva and DeEbony Groves
- Two counts of attempted first-degree murder, premeditated, with serious bodily injury — of Shantia Waggoner and Sharita Henderson
- Two counts of employing firearm during commission of or attempted to commit a dangerous felony — relating to attempted first-degree murder of Shanita Waggoner and Sharita Henderson
- Two counts of attempted first-degree murder, premeditated — of Kayla Shaw and James Shaw Jr.
- Two counts of employing firearm during commission of or attempted to commit a dangerous felony - relating to attempted first-degree murder of Kayla Shaw and James Shaw Jr.
- Four counts of first-degree murder, felony murder — in the death of Joe Perez Jr., Taurean Sanderlin, Akilah Dasilva, DeEbony Groves
February 2019: Reinking pleads not guilty
Reinking pleads not guilty to charges related to the shooting. Reinking does not appear in court; his lawyer enters the plea on his behalf.
January 2020: Prosecutors announce they won't seek death penalty
REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS:
DeEbony Groves was from Gallatin and a senior at Belmont, majoring in social work. She was shot and killed inside the restaurant. She was 21.
Akilah Dasilva was inside with his girlfriend and brother when he was shot. He was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he died. Friends called him a “passionate” musician who was pursuing a career in musical engineering at MTSU.
Joe Perez, the youngest victim, moved to Nashville from Texas a few months prior to the shooting and was also shot outside the restaurant. He was 20 years old.
Taurean Sanderlin age 29, was a Waffle House employee from Goodlettsville. He was shot and killed as he stood outside.