Man Who Attempted To Assassinate Reagan Inches Closer To Freedom, Could Be Free To Live Alone Soon
The man who tried to kill President Reagan can live alone outside of his family’s care, a judge ruled Friday.
John Hinckley Jr., 63, has been living with his mother since being released from a psychiatric hospital in 2016. Hinckley had been institutionalized, albeit with varying degrees of freedom to visit the outside world, since being found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982.
Now, a ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman will allow Hinckley to live alone or with roommates in or around Williamsburg, Virginia, USA Today reported.
Hinckley will still face tight travel restrictions, limiting him to movement within a 75-mile radius of Williamsburg. He must travel with a tracking device on his car, as well.
The decision came during a routine review of Hinckley’s mental health by the court.
In 1981, then-25-year-old Hinckley shot Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Washington D.C. police officer outside a hotel in the nation’s capital where Reagan had just given a speech.
All four initially survived, although Brady was left with lifelong brain injuries from a head wound that required the use of a wheelchair. When he died in 2014, authorities ruled his death a homicide. Hinckley did not face additional charges.
Hinckley, it was claimed, was motivated by a fixation on actress Jodie Foster. He was found not guilty of 13 counts, a verdict which led to changes in how the insanity defense can be applied.
The would-be assassin was confined to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital after the verdict and wasn’t allowed any great measure of freedom until 2006, when NBC News notes that he began visiting his mother, now in her 90s, in Williamsburg. In 2016, he was released full-time to her care.
Friedman said that, based on his evaluation, “this court finds that Mr. Hinckley will not pose a danger to himself or others if he is permitted to continue residing full-time in Williamsburg, Virginia, on convalescent leave under the proposed conditions.”
Currently, Hinckley is still subject to a number of restrictions. The court still requires he undergo treatment from mental health professionals. His internet use is restricted — he can’t search for information about himself or use social media — and he’s forbidden from using alcohol or illegal drugs.
Still, he may get even more freedom soon.
Hinckley attorney Barry Levine said that he would request unconditional release for his client, likely during his next hearing in June.
“It would be the complete restoration to life as you and I know it,” Levine said.
The two surviving members of the attack — Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and police officer Thomas Delahanty — have both expressed reservations about Hinckley’s rehabilitation.
“That’s their decision, I guess,” Delahanty said upon Hinckley’s 2016 release, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I’m probably not too enthused with it, but what can you do?”
“I have a lot of not very great Christian thoughts about him,” McCarthy added. “It was a terrible act. It’s unforgivable as far as I’m concerned.”
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