State says actions while stealing BMW, drawings after shooting show Reinking knew right from wrong

Posted at 5:17 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 07:47:24-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The prosecution during its rebuttal Thursday tried to convince jurors that Travis Reinking's action before and after the shooting demonstrated he knew right from wrong.

The defense rested and the prosecution has eight rebuttal witnesses. Reinking took the stand to waive his right to testify.

Reinking pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to 16 charges, including four counts of first-degree murder.

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."

Lawyers for the prosecution wanted to focus on the BMW stolen by Reinking before the Waffle House shooting. The defense also focused on this point when they called Dr. Rena Isen, who is a forensic psychologist to discuss Reinking's action by stealing the BMW from the Brentwood dealership of Mallory Lane.

She said Reinking stole a BMW from a Brentwood dealership as a "punitive action" in response to him believing items were stolen from his home. Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman asked the witness whether the concept of "punitive action" is an indicator that a person understands wrongfulness.

"Yes, the general concept, it does indicate that he understands that," Isen replied.

Norman questioned Isen about Reinking's actions in the aftermath of the shooting, mentioning how he ran from the area to avoid law enforcement.

"He said he heard sirens and thought, 'I gotta get out of here because they are going to try to convict me.' Reinking is indicating he understood the wrongfulness?" Norman asked

"Yes, he understood the police would be after him," Isen responded.

The state called rebuttal witnesses Brentwood Police Officer Brent Phalen. He described the chase for Reinking ended on Concord Road because of traffic. It was until the tracking device on the BMW helped Metro police officers find the car that an additional BPD officer fingerprinted the vehicle.

But before that took place, the dealership employee who showed Reinking the BMW also testified to how he obtained the vehicle in the first place.

Jena Jacobsen said Reinking asked to see a vehicle.

"We walked out together. He was quiet, and I headed toward the vehicle so we could go over the vehicle so we could show him what he was looking for," Jacobsen said. "My job is to demo that vehicle and go over the features. Nine times out of 10, the key is never in the customer's hands."

Jacobsen said Reinking didn't tell him what he wanted out of the car. She described it as a one-sided conversation.

When asked for his license and insurance, Reinking said Jacobsen didn't understand.

"He proceeded to ask if I had the key, and I held the key in my hand," she said. "At that point, he grabbed the end of the key and grabbed the key from my possession. I didn't let go right away. I was shocked that someone was physically taking something from me. There was a pull. As he took the key and I was pulled back toward him, I asked him if he was serious. He said yes and that I needed to get out."

Two other witnesses from the Davidson County Sheriff's Office then testified to drawings Reinking scribbled on the top of Styrofoam containers after meals a year later from the shooting. The prosecution told the judge before they were entered as evidence that Reinking was "celebrating the shooting."

The drawings depict Reinking shooting into the Waffle House, one with stars and moons on the picture while the other one featured a spaceship.

On Friday, the jury will hear closing arguments of the case before the judge reads the charge to the jury.