- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2003

John W. Hinckley Jr. returns to court today in another effort to gain more freedom from the hospital where he has been confined since shooting President Reagan and three others 22 years ago.

The three-day hearing in U.S. District Court will be dominated by highly technical evaluations from psychiatrists and hospital technicians.

If Hinckley’s attorneys are successful, Judge Paul L. Friedman could grant unsupervised leaves from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital so Hinckley, 48, can visit with his parents and perhaps stay overnight occasionally in their Williamsburg, Va., home.

Hinckley has been confined to jail and the hospital since March 30, 1981, after he fired six .22-caliber bullets that wounded Mr. Reagan, who had just made a speech at the Washington Hilton Hotel, and three others.

The bullet that hit the president lodged inches from his heart. The bullet that hit James Brady, Mr. Reagan’s press secretary, resulted in permanent brain damage. Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy and Metropolitan Police Officer Thomas Delahanty also were wounded.

The shootings occurred two months before Hinckley’s 25th birthday. A seven-week trial ended with a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity and Hinckley began confinement in a 10-by-15-foot room at St. Elizabeth’s on June 22, 1982.

Hinckley’s attorneys gained more leniency and freedom for their client in 1999.

Since then, Hinckley has been accompanied by psychiatric staff members to bowling alleys, bookstores, movies and beaches.

For one month in 2000, Hinckley was allowed unsupervised furloughs. They ended after caretakers found he had smuggled into his room a book about Jodie Foster and 57 pictures of the actress.

Authorities had determined that Hinckley’s infatuation with Miss Foster led to the presidential assassination attempt. He had stalked the actress at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

After the assassination attempt, investigators searching Hinckley’s hotel room found a handwritten note that stated: “Jodie, I’m asking you to please look into your heart and at least give me the chance, with this historical deed, to gain your respect and love.”

Psychiatric witnesses are expected to testify that Hinckley has overcome his schizophrenic and narcissistic personality disorders.

Hinckley attorney Barry Levine recently said that five doctors unanimously agreed that Hinckley would pose no danger to himself or others.

“It is undisputed that Mr. Hinckley’s psychosis and depression have been in full remission and that he has shown no symptoms thereof for over a decade,” he said.

However, U.S. attorneys say Hinckley has a “history of deception and violence.”

They say Hinckley’s writings have fooled psychiatrists and that he has praised Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and has written to serial killer Ted Bundy and mass murderer Charles Manson.

Hinckley was born the youngest of three children on May 29, 1955, in Ardmore, Okla. He was 17 when he left home and went to Hollywood with aspirations to write popular music.

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