WASHINGTON (AP) – The man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 is “clinically ready” to live fulltime outside a mental hospital, his lawyer argued in federal court on Wednesday.
John Hinckley Jr. has been in “full and stable remission” for more than two decades, his lawyer Barry Levine argued.
Prosecutor Colleen Kennedy argued to the contrary, saying more restrictions and conditions are needed to keep both Hinckley and others safe.
Hinckley was 25 when a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity in the assassination attempt. Ever since, he’s lived at St. Elizabeths, a Washington mental hospital. But for a dozen years now, he’s gradually been given more freedom.
Now 60, he already spends more than half his time – 17 days a month – at the home of his 89-year-old mother, in a gated community that surrounds a golf course in Williamsburg, Virginia. He goes to movies and the bookstore, shopping and eating out like anyone else, and mostly goes unnoticed, although the U.S. Secret Service keeps watch now and then.
Levine has argued that living fulltime with his elderly mother while she’s still alive will enable Hinckley to show the world he’s no longer a threat. Levine and hospital officials are asking that Hinckley be granted “convalescent leave,” living full time on the outside but still meeting regularly with a psychiatrist and therapists.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman approved the 17-day visits, but said Hinckley would need to demonstrate his success before being granted any additional freedom. Several days of hearings this week are meant to determine whether he’s met this test.