Feb 2, 2022 - News

What's next in the Waffle House shooting trial

Travis Reinking, right, in court in a blue shirt

Travis Reinking, right, in court. Photo: Stephanie Amador/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

The lawyers defending Waffle House shooting suspect Travis Reinking confirmed Monday he would plead not guilty by reason of insanity, a rare and difficult legal strategy.

  • Veteran defense attorney David Raybin tells Axios that juries often resist such an argument even when supporting evidence is strong.

What to watch: Reinking's defense team, which acknowledges he was the shooter who killed four people at an Antioch Waffle House in 2018, is likely to emphasize his long history of mental health struggles, including contentious run-ins with police.

  • Defense attorneys argue that Reinking, 33, has severe schizophrenia and that his actions were driven by delusions and auditory hallucinations.
  • Raybin expects prosecutors to wait to present their own mental health experts until after the defense rests its case.

The details: To successfully argue an insanity defense, state law requires Reinking's legal team prove he had a severe mental illness that kept him from appreciating the wrongful nature of his actions.

  • If the jury is convinced, Raybin says, Reinking would be committed to a mental health institution. He could not be released unless the judge approved.

Yes, but: "It's very rare where a jury will go along with it," Raybin says of the insanity defense.

  • "The shooting is so horrific," he added. "It's hard to get past that."

The latest: Prosecutors in court yesterday questioned police who searched for Reinking in 2018, per The Tennessean.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Nashville.

More Nashville stories