It has been almost four years since a sniper armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle opened fire on a Waffle House in Antioch, killing four people.
Jury selection in the trial of the man accused of the shooting is expected to begin on January 25, and opening pleadings will begin the following week.
It was a long road to the courthouse.
At 3:23 a.m. on April 22, 2018, a gunman shot dead Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29; Joe R. Perez, 20; DeEbony Groves, 21; and Akilah DaSilva, 23 at Waffle House.
Travis Reinking, 32, faces multiple murder charges. He was arrested on April 23, 2018, a day after the shooting and after a 34-hour manhunt that captivated the entire city and beyond.
Police said he sprayed bullets in the restaurant in Antioch in 42 seconds of terror and fled the scene naked.
He has remained in prison awaiting trial since his arrest.
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Prosecutors seek life without parole
Reinking has been charged with 17 counts in this case, including four counts of premeditated first degree murder.
District Attorney General Glenn Funk will not seek the death penalty for Reinking, he announced in early 2020. Instead, prosecutors will push for Reinking to be jailed for life without the possibility of parole, a reinforced sentence which will require the approval of the jury.
âI can’t comment on an ongoing case,â Funk told the Tennessean Monday afternoon.
Reinking, then a lanky 29-year-old man with acne-rashed cheeks and brassy hair, had raised numerous red flags before the shooting.
He had several run-ins with the authorities. His guns had been seized and his sanity questioned.
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Assessments of his mental state after his arrest raised more flags and delayed legal proceedings.
A Nashville judge hired Reinking for treatment in August 2018, saying he suffered from untreated schizophrenia. Reinking was treated and found competent to stand trial through this care in October 2018.
Although the criminal case has remained largely dormant since then, movements on the periphery late last year heralded big movements ahead of the upcoming trial.
Civil affairs demand the lifting of the seals
In October, Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Mark Fishburn agreed to allow some access to the sealed files.
Fishburn will hear the case against Reinking in Nashville.
Another gunshot victim, Sharita Henderson, filed a lawsuit against Reinking and her father, Jeffrey Reinking, in 2019. The case was one of many filed against the Reinkings, sometimes including Waffle House.
The case is pending in federal court, where U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw has issued new orders to move the case forward, according to one of Henderson’s attorneys, Philip N. Elbert.
Fishburn has kept the case locked down before a possible jury trial, limiting what police, lawyers, investigators and the suspect himself can legally say outside of formal court proceedings.
Usually trials and even routine hearings are entered on publicly available registers, but even these have been obscured in this case, making transparent access to court proceedings difficult.
Elbert needs that information, or at least access to ask questions about it, to complete the work necessary for the civil case, he told the court last year.
Reinking’s defense attorney Paul Bruno has expressed concerns about possible leaks if the information disclosed in the civil case becomes public.
Bruno did not immediately return a request for comment on Monday.
At the time, Fishburn had hinted that the trial would be set for early 2022.
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At the end of December, another case of Bruno was moved due to a conflict in mid-January with his schedule.
That case, from Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, accused of campaign finance violations, has been postponed to 2023 due to a scheduling conflict.
“Paul Bruno, Mr. Kelsey’s attorney, is expected to start a quadruple homicide case in Davidson County, Tennessee on January 25, 2021,” the federal court documents say.