John Hinckley, the would-be assassin who shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan, has asked for his unconditional release, according to new court filings from the United States Attorney’s Office for D.C. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for mid-December in Washington, D.C.
Hinckley was transferred from a mental health hospital in 2016, where he’d served a 35-year commitment, to serve time in "convalescent leave" at his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia. The leave requires Hinckley regularly report to court officials about his treatment and support.
The court records reviewed by News4 show Hinckley made a motion for "unconditional release" from his commitment in an April 30 hearing before a D.C. judge. The filing from prosecutors said Hinckley cited a code in D.C. law allowing people to seek release or changes in the conditions of their custody.
Hinckley’s defense attorneys have not responded to multiple requests for comment from News4 about his efforts to seek release.
In their filings to the judge in Hinckley’s case, federal prosecutors acknowledge they hired an examiner to review Hinckley’s "present mental condition and whether or not he would pose a danger to himself or others if released under the conditions proposed by officials with the Department of Behavioral Health."
They also notified court officials an expert needs to conduct further psychological testing and interviews. The expert would bring “audio recording devices” for the examination, according to court filings.
A hearing on the conditions of Hinckley’s release is scheduled for mid-December, but the schedule for proceedings in the case remains somewhat unclear. According to court filings, the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health did not provide court officials with a copy of a risk assessment of Hinckley as required under court order in late July.
In May, News4 first reported delays in the completion of risk assessments in Hinckley’s case. A federal judge cited “unforeseen scheduling delays beyond the parties’ and the hospital’s control.”
The Department of Behavioral Health did not immediately return requests for comment.
As part of Hinckley’s 2016 release, the court ordered he have no contact with the Reagan family or with actress Jodie Foster, whom Hinckley said he was trying to impress when he shot the president in D.C. in March 1981. The court also barred Hinckley and his family from speaking with media.
Hinckley was 25 when he opened fire outside of the Washington Hilton, hitting Reagan in the chest — a moment captured by news crews. Press Secretary James Brady also was shot in the head. A police officer and a Secret Service agent also were wounded.
Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered to live at St. Elizabeths Hospital for treatment. Over the years, the court loosened restrictions on him.