Travis Reinking case: Jury selection begins Tuesday in Waffle House shooting trial

travis reinking in court
Posted at 7:36 AM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 09:27:31-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's been nearly four years since police say Travis Reinking opened fire at an Antioch Waffle House, killing four people. Now, he will finally face trial.

Jury selection is set to begin on Tuesday morning and last throughout the rest of the week. Opening statements are set for next Monday.

He's accused of walking in half-naked and shooting up an Antioch Waffle House in the middle of the night, killing DeEbony Groves, Akilah Dasilva, Joe Perez, and Taurean Sanderlin, and injuring others. He was taken into custody the following day after a tense 34-hour manhunt.

The case has been on hold for months while Reinking was treated for schizophrenia and sent to a mental health facility. A judge later deemed him fit for trial.

Reinking pleaded not guilty to 17 charges, including four counts of murder and is facing life in prison. There is a gag order in place, however, NewsChannel 5 has learned Reinking's attorneys will argue the insanity defense. The argument is he may be sane now, but he wasn't at the time of the shooting. The ultimate decision of his fate will fall into the hands of jurors.

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

Insanity defenses are relatively rare, and difficult to prove. During jury selection, this means the defense attorneys will be questioning prospective jurors about their attitudes on mental health — whether they know anyone who's been treated for mental illness.

Additionally, this means at trial, competing experts are expected to take the stand. Both sides will be calling doctors who will testify whether they believe Reinking to be insane.

To succeed with this defense, Reinking's lawyers will need to convince a jury their client does not know the difference between right and wrong — a very high bar.

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


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.

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.

He’s been in custody ever since and is now at the new Davidson County jail.

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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.

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(File photo) Travis Reinking appears in court.

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



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.