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Travis Reinking to serve life in prison sentences consecutively in 2018 Waffle House shooting

Posted at 6:24 AM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-15 19:41:55-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Travis Reinking, the man who killed four people and injured many others during a shooting inside an Antioch Waffle House in 2018, will serve each of his life in prison sentences consecutively.

Earlier this year, a jury sentenced Reinking to life in prison without parole for murdering DeEbony Groves, Akilah Dasilva, Taurean Sanderlin and Joe Perez Jr.

Four people were killed in a 2018 shooting at Waffle House
Four people were killed in a 2018 shooting at an Antioch Waffle House

He was back in court on Friday the be sentenced on two counts of attempted first-degree murder with serious bodily injury, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and four counts of employing a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony.

Read more: Top prosecutor says it's important to finish sentencing Waffle House shooter

After hearing from family members of the victims and from three survivors, Judge Mark Fishburn ruled Reinking must serve each of his life in prison sentences consecutively. In addition to the four consecutive life sentences, Reinking was sentenced to 114 years for the other charges and required to serve 78.5 years — a largely symbolic move by Fishburn.

Fishburn read from Reinking’s private journal, where he said he thought of shooting victims as "targets" instead of people.

"There is no question in my mind that these are the most severe injuries I’ve ever experienced," Fishburn said. "It doesn’t matter how I rule, justice is not going to be done."

During Reinking's trial in February, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but prosecutors argued he knew exactly what he was doing when he walked into that Waffle House and started shooting.


During Friday's hearing, prosecutors first called family members of the four people who were killed to speak about how their lives have changed since the mass shooting.

Patricia Perez, mother of Joe Perez Jr., was the first person to take the stand on Friday. She testified during the trial and also read a victim impact statement during Reinking's first sentencing hearing for the murder of her son.

Patricia Perez spoke about her struggle with mental health in the years since losing her son. She also read a victim impact statement written by her son Cruz Perez.

Patricia Perez speaks at Travis Reinking's sentencing hearing

She also spoke directly to Reinking, telling him he deserves life in prison and nothing less.

"You’ll get to see your family. You’ll get to see your little brother. My sons won’t ever get to see their little brother again," she said.

Jeffery Sanderlin, the younger brother of Taurean Sanderlin, spoke next. He discussed how he no longer feels like himself after losing his brother.

"If you lose someone in the way we lost Taurean, you become a shell of yourself," he said.

Jeffery Sanderlin speaks at Travis Reinking's sentencing hearing

Akilah Dasilva's younger siblings, Amber Dasilva and Aldane Brooks, each took the stand. Both detailed the devastating loss their family has felt.

Amber Dasilva speaks at Travis Reinking's sentencing hearing

Brooks was just 12 years old when his brother died. "It’s hard to explain what losing your older brother feels like," he said.

Aldane Brooks speaks at Travis Reinking's sentencing hearing

Di'Angelo Groves, the older brother of DeEbony Groves, was the last family member of the four killed to speak. In speaking directly to Reinking, he called for him to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"Every time I see you, I see no remorse whatsoever," he said. "I hope that you remember this day, and you really honestly think about the things that you have done."

Di'Angelo Groves speaks at Travis Reinking's sentencing hearing

Following Groves' impact statement, Shantia Waggoner was called to the stand. Waggoner was at the Waffle House with her boyfriend Akilah Dasilva and his brother Abede Dasilva. She was shot in the leg and continues to use an aid to walk.

Waggoner testified that she is still in recovery from her injury even four years later. She told the court she still needs additional surgeries to help with her recovery process.

Shantia Waggoner speaks at sentencing hearing for Travis Reinking

Waggoner also spoke about the loss felt by Akilah Dasilva's death. She said she sometimes puts things on the left side of her bed, just to feel as if he was still there.

Her mother, Rhonda Waggoner, spoke next. She described her daughter's pain, both emotionally and physically, since that day. Rhonda Waggoner also spoke positively about her daughter's strength and reliance over the last four years.

Rhonda Waggoner speaks at sentencing hearing for Travis Reinking

Sharita Henderson, who was shot several times, was next to speak. She submitted a 22-page victim impact statement that Judge Fishburn read prior to Friday's hearing. He said he felt her pain when reading the letter.

Henderson was asked to summarize her letter for the court. She said she was shot in the arm and leg, and bullet fragments remain in her body.

In the last four years, she has undergone 24 surgeries and received countless blood transfusions. Henderson said she will likely need future surgeries as well.

Sharita Henderson speaks at sentencing hearing for Travis Reinking

Her father, Harrold Henderson, took the stand next. "I think I used to be her hero, but she's my hero," Harrold Henderson said of his daughter.

He detailed the morning he and his wife were woken up early in the morning and told their daughter was in a "terrible accident." The Hendersons went to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where they assumed Sharita Henderson was being treated for injuries sustained in a car wreck.

Harrold Henderson speaks at sentencing hearing for Travis Reinking

At VUMC, he said it took them a long time to see their daughter because she was admitted under a protective name of "Tampa" because Reinking had not yet been caught.

Harrold Henderson said when the nursing staff told him what happened, he collapsed.

He detailed how their family spent so much time at VUMC while Sharita Henderson was recovering, that people thought he worked there.

The last person to speak was James Shaw Jr. — a survivor of the shooting and the man credited with stopping Reinking.

Shaw brought his 8-year-old daughter toward the stand. He motioned to her, telling Reinking he almost didn't make it home to her, "because of you."

James Shaw Jr. speaks at sentencing hearing for Travis Reinking

He told the court it was important to bring his daughter to the hearing, because even though he did not know DeEbony Groves, he sees her in his daughter.

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.


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.

AM Nick Reinking Trial What's Next VO_frame_741.jpeg


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.

AM Nick Reinking Trial What's Next VO_frame_219.jpeg
(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


REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS:

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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.