Lawyers to urge no restrictions for Reagan shooter Hinckley

John Hinckley Jr.

Lawyers for John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, are scheduled to argue in court Monday that the 66-year-old should be freed from restrictions placed on him after he moved out of a Washington hospital in 2016.

Since Hinckley's move to Williamsburg, Virginia, a federal judge has made him live under various conditions that dictate much of his life. For instance, doctors and therapists must oversee his psychiatric medication and decide how often he attends individual and group therapy sessions.

Hinckley has monthly appointments — now virtual — with Washington's Department of Behavioral Health, which files progress notes with a federal court. And he must give three days' notice if he wants to travel more than 75 miles (120 kilometers) from home.

Hinckley also has to turn over passwords for computers, phones and online accounts such as email. He can't have a gun. And he can't contact Reagan's children, other victims or their families or actress Jodie Foster —- with whom he was obsessed with at the time of the 1981 shooting.

Hinckley's attorney, Barry Levine, has said that Hinckley should get what's called “unconditional release” because he no longer poses a threat.

“He has adhered to every requirement of law,” Levine told The Associated Press last month. “And based on the views of a variety of mental health professionals ... he no longer suffers from a mental disease, and he hasn’t suffered from a mental disease for decades.”

A status conference is scheduled for Monday before U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington.

In a May court filing, the U.S. government had said it opposed ending the restrictions. It also retained an expert to examine Hinckley and determine "whether or not he would pose a danger to himself or others if unconditionally released.”

Findings from such an examination have not been filed in court. But a 2020 “violence risk assessment” conducted on behalf of Washington's Department of Behavioral Health said Hinckley would not pose a danger.

Timothy McCarthy, a Secret Service agent who was shot during the assassination attempt, told the AP that he doesn't “have a lot of good Christian thoughts" about Hinckley.

“But in any case, I hope they're right,” McCarthy, 72, said of mental health professionals and the court. “Because the actions of this man could have changed the course of history.”

Hinckley was 25 when he shot and wounded the 40th U.S. president outside a Washington hotel. The shooting paralyzed Reagan press secretary James Brady, who died in 2014. It also injured McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty.

Hinckley was suffering from acute psychosis. When jurors found him not guilty by reason of insanity, they said he needed treatment and not a lifetime in confinement. He was ordered to live at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington.

In the 2000s, Hinckley began making visits to his parents’ home in a gated Williamsburg community. A 2016 court order granted him permission to live with his mom full-time, albeit under various restrictions, after experts said his mental illness had been in remission for decades.