A federal judge ruled Monday that John Hinckley Jr. can be released without condition next year, more than 40 years after he shot President Ronald Reagan.
The would-be presidential assassin, now 66, was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital, a public psychiatric facility in Washington, D.C., for more than 34 years before he was released under certain restrictions in 2016.
“If he hadn’t tried to kill a president, he would have been released unconditionally a long time ago,” U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman said, according to Politico.
Hinckley had been diagnosed with acute psychosis and major depression, having been found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 of the shooting of Reagan on March 30, 1981, after a presidential speech at the Washington Hilton, according to The Washington Post.
During the assassination attempt, then-25-year-old Hinckley also shot White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington Metropolitan Police officer Thomas Delahanty, according to NPR.
As part of his restricted release, Hinckley was required to live with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia.
He was also forbidden from possessing a firearm, contacting Reagan’s children, or contacting actress Jodi Foster, whom Hinckley was obsessed with and had written a letter to explaining his intentions to assassinate Reagan in an attempt to impress her, Fox News reported.
Hinckley is currently barred from traveling to places where he knows there will be someone protected by the Secret Service, must give three days’ notice if he wants to travel more than 75 miles from home and is required to turn over his passwords for computers, phones and online accounts.
Hinckley recently moved out of his mother’s house after she died in July. His current address is unclear.
Friedman said he plans to release Hinckley from all court supervision in June.
A 2020 violence risk assessment conducted on behalf of Washington’s Department of Behavioral Health concluded Hinckley would not pose a danger if unconditionally released, the Associated Press reported.
Barry Levine, Hinckley’s lawyer, said his client’s “mental disease is in full, stable and complete remission and has been for over three decades,” according to NPR.
Hinckley will be living on his own for the first time in nearly four decades, and one of his primary doctors is set to retire, dissolving Hinckley’s therapy group in the process.
The Justice Department agreed to the settlement but will monitor Hinckley for nine months to ensure he remains mentally stable.
“Ultimately, your honor, at this point, the ball is in Mr. Hinckley’s hands,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kacie Weston said.
Levine offered apologies on behalf of his client, who did not attend the hearing.
“Mr. Hinckley wants to express apologies. His apologies are heartfelt and ones of profound regret,” Levine said, as reported in Law & Crime.
The lawyer added that Hinckley also offered those apologies to the families of Reagan, Brady and McCarthy, and “apologizes to the American people.”
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