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Waffle House shooting case goes to jury

NASHVILLE, TENN. —
A man who shot and killed four people at a Nashville Waffle House in 2018 was convicted of four counts of first-degree murder on Friday.

Travis Reinking, 33, did not dispute the details of the shooting, which was caught on surveillance video and seen by many people. But he had pleaded not guilty on account of insanity.

Naked except for a green jacket, Reinking opened fire inside the restaurant just after 3:20 a.m. on April 22, 2018, killing Taurean Sanderlin, 29; Joey Perez, 20; Akilah Dasilva, 23; and DeEbony Groves, 21. He fled after restaurant boss James Shaw Jr. snatched his assault rifle, sparking a manhunt.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Reinking suffered from schizophrenia and suffered from delusions for years, believing strangers tormented him. He contacted law enforcement several times to report that he was being threatened, stalked and harassed. In July 2017, he was arrested by the Secret Service after venturing unarmed into a restricted area on the grounds of the White House and asking to meet then-President Donald Trump.

His behavior was so alarming that the Illinois State Police, where he was living at the time, revoked the identification of the gun owner from Reinking State. But that only meant he had to hand over his guns to someone else with a valid ID. Reinking returned the guns to his father, who then returned them to his son.

Since law enforcement refused to take his delusions seriously, Reinking began to sense that they and other random people were part of a conspiracy against him, psychologists testified at trial . Shortly before the attack, he believed someone had drugged him, broken into his apartment, and raped him. Reinking told psychologists that while praying for what to do, he was told by God to go to the Waffle House and shoot three people.

To prove that Reinking was not guilty by reason of insanity, defense lawyers had to show not only that he suffered from a serious mental illness, but also that the illness prevented him from understanding the wrongfulness of his actions.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Reinking was calm and cooperative after his arrest, able to understand and respond to commands. Although Reinking was naked when he left the crime scene, when he was captured nearly two days later he was fully clothed and carrying a backpack loaded with bottled water, sunscreen, a pistol, ammunition, a Bible and several silver bars. And they mentioned that he asked to speak to a lawyer after his arrest.

Davidson County Assistant Attorney General Ronald Dowdy suggested Reinking was acting out of revenge. He noted that days before the shooting, Reinking had stolen a BMW from a dealership. Reinking wrote in a diary about his plans to drive to Colorado, describing a life in which he would hang out with friends, smoke marijuana, hike in the mountains, and “take over” cars and homes for don’t have to work.

After police took the BMW back the next day, he wrote, “This time I should punish them by taking something they couldn’t take back, part of their own life,” prosecutors said.

“He got mad, and so he went to that Waffle House angry, because he wanted to impose the same kind of pain and suffering that he felt on other people,” Dowdy said during oral arguments. finals.

Prosecutor Jan Norman also pointed to Reinking’s own account of the shooting: He said that after he killed Perez, “I felt like I was going to vomit because it was something that God had given me. told to do, but it was wrong.”

The jury also convicted Reinking on Friday of four counts of attempted first-degree murder and four counts of unlawful use of a firearm while committing or attempting to commit a dangerous crime.

Prosecutors have requested a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

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