John Hinckley Jr., the man who attempted to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan in 1981, won unconditional release from his state-mandated supervision on Monday.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed to a deal with Hinckley’s attorney and a federal judge accepted it, allowing the 66-year-old to begin living life without court-ordered restrictions and mandated supervision of his doctors.
“There is no evidence of danger whatsoever,” Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine said, according to NPR. Levine called the judge’s decision a “momentous event” and said his client had an “excellent” prognosis.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kacie Weston agreed to the deal with one provision. Hinckley should be monitored for nine more months because he had not lived on his own in four decades and because one of his primary doctors is retiring.
“At this point the ball is in Mr. Hinckley’s hands. The government agrees if he continues to do what he is doing between now and June 2022, he would be granted his unconditional release,” Weston said, according to The Washington Post.
Court filings show that the DOJ had opposed granting Hinckley unconditional release just months ago, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In May, the government retained a mental health expert to review Hinckley and determine if he still posed a danger to society or himself. The review’s findings have not been filed in court.
“Since Hinckley, 66, moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, from a Washington hospital in 2016, the court-imposed conditions included doctors and therapists overseeing his psychiatric medication and deciding how often he attends individual and group therapy sessions. Hinckley also can’t have a gun. And he can’t contact Reagan’s children, other victims or their families, or actress Jodie Foster, whom he was obsessed with at the time of the 1981 shooting,” the Journal-Constitution reported.
Hinckley attempted to assassinate Reagan in 1981 outside of a hotel in Washington, D.C. Hinckley, who was 25 at the time, was arrested and put on trial for attempting to assassinate the president. In 1982, Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.
“Outrage over Hinckley’s acquittal in the March 30, 1981 shooting reshaped the insanity defense in courts across the country. The revelation that he had pulled the trigger to impress movie star Jodie Foster added obsession and celebrity to the case. And extraordinary television footage of the attack on the 40th U.S. president brought the event to millions of American homes,” the Post reported.
Reagan eventually recovered from the shooting. Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police Officer Thomas Delahanty were also injured in the attack and Reagan press secretary James Brady, who died in 2014, was left paralyzed.
Hinckley stayed at St. Elizabeth’s for about three decades until 2016 when the court-mandated restrictions on him began to ease and he was allowed to live at his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia. His mother, Jo Ann Hinckley, died at the age of 95 on July 30.
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