President Reagan’s would-be assassin seeking unconditional release

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried unsuccessfully to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981, plans to ask for a full, unconditional release from the court orders that stipulate how he lives, his attorney said Tuesday in federal court.

Following a status conference before U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine, told CNN that while there’s no definitive timeline on when he’ll file the motion, it will happen before the end of the year. Levine said that he’ll file that motion alongside another one that seeks a reduction in conditions for the would-be assassin so that the judge can consider both.

Hinckley was not at Tuesday’s hearing.

Tuesday’s court meeting is the latest development in a nearly 40-year saga that began on March 30, 1981, when Hinckley, then 25, stood outside a Washington hotel and shot Reagan, a Secret Service agent, a police officer and White House press secretary James Brady. Hinckley, now 64, has been living with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, since being released from St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., in September 2016. He was committed there by a judge after being found not guilty by reason of insanity for the attempted assassination of Reagan and assault with attempt to kill the three others.

Currently, Hinckley is allowed to move out of his mother’s house and live independently, with roommates or a family member. A court ruling also stipulates that Hinckley maintain bimonthly contact with his doctors and continue group and individual therapy.

In federal court in Washington, Levine said he does not think Hinckley needs another risk assessment to determine whether he presents any sort of danger, saying there’s “no manifestation whatsoever of any dangerous behavior … or no symptoms of mental disease whatsoever.” The judge, who said Hinckley’s “ultimate goal is unconditional release,” agreed, saying he is “no longer a danger to himself or others and everyone agrees.”

Friedman, however, stressed that he wants to see a plan from Levine for where Hinckley would live should his elderly mother pass away. He also stressed that Hinckley needs to find treatment alternatives as some of his health care providers are planning to retire in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kacie Weston said she would wait to see what Levine requests in a motion he files before she weighs in on what sort of future she would be in favor of for Hinckley. But in court, Weston made it clear that she wasn’t in favor of Levine’s suggestion that Hinckley who he said enjoys making music, travel to California to find work in the music industry.

The idea, Weston said, gives the government “great pause.”

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