Reagan Shooter Wants More Time Away From Mental Hospital

Federal judge weighs extended leave for John Hinckley

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    NEWSLETTERS

    John Hinckley, the man accused of trying to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, is asking for more time away from St. Elizabeths Hospital, but critics say Hinckley's recent behavior raises too many concerns. (Published Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011)

    The man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan wants to spend more time outside a Washington mental hospital, but a government lawyer says John Hinckley's request is premature, and says Hinckley recently tried to cover up browsing at a store for books about Reagan and presidential assassinations.

    A jury found Hinckley was insane when he shot and wounded Reagan, press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a D.C. police officer outside a Washington hotel in 1981, but doctors have said his mental illness is in remission. In recent years he has been allowed visits of up to 10 days at his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va.

    On Wednesday, a federal judge in Washington began hearing arguments that Hinckley should be allowed longer visits eventually transition to living outside the mental hospital full-time.

    St. Elizabeths Hospital, where Hinckley has been treated for severe depression and narcissism, proposed extending his visits with his mother to 17 days for the next two visits and then to 24 days with and unaccompanied outings, News4's Chris Gordon reported. Then he'd become an out-patient living in Williamsburg as a resident and register for social security and Medicaid.

    Government lawyers oppose the plan. HInckley is devious and poses a risk of future violence, Sarah Chasson said. During a visit in July, Hinckley asked his mother to drop him at a movie, but instead, he went to a bookstore where he was seen browsing books about Reagan and presidential assassinations, Gordon reported.

    Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, said his client has not committed a single act of violence in two decades.

    U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman wondered if Williamsburg would be the best place for Hinckley if his 80-year-old mother becomes incapacitated, Gordon reported.

    Friedman granted permission for the 10-day visits in 2009.

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