Jurors deliberate life sentence for Waffle House shooter

Jurors are hearing testimony about whether or not to make parole possible after 51 years in prison for the man who shot and killed four people at a Nashville Waffle House in 2018

Via AP news wire
Saturday 05 February 2022 19:11 GMT
Waffle House Shooting
Waffle House Shooting (THE TENNESSEAN)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Jurors on Saturday heard testimony ahead of their decision about whether or not to make parole possible after 51 years in prison for the man who shot and killed four people at a Nashville Waffle House in 2018.

The jury is mulling the two penalty options for 33-year-old Travis Reinking after hearing family members of the four people killed testify for about two hours. They sobbed and trembled as they talked about their loved ones and how losing them continues to fracture their lives more than three years later.

Jurors can either give Reinking the chance for parole after 51 years in prison, or sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors in 2020 indicated they would not seek the death penalty and would seek life without parole.

Naked save 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 patron James Shaw Jr. wrestled his assault-style rifle away from him, triggering a manhunt.

“I’ve always been somebody that they say is unbreakable, because no matter what our family has been through, I will always be the one to bring our family up,” Patricia Perez said through tears about losing her son Joey. “This has broken me.”

Jurors on Friday rejected Reinking’s insanity defense as they found him guilty on 16 charges, including four counts of first-degree murder. The trial opened Monday after jury selection the previous week. Prosecutors in 2020 indicated they would not seek the death penalty.

Reinking’s defense team, which didn’t put on any sentencing witnesses Saturday, argued for the possibility of parole, saying he was mentally untethered. Prosecutors argued the evidence shows Reinking planned out the attack and wanted to kill everyone at the restaurant.

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