- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2003

John Hinckley Jr.’s mother testified yesterday with confidence that she and her husband can safely supervise their son on outings from the mental hospital where he has been confined since attempting to assassinate President Reagan in 1981.

“There is no indication of danger around John at all,” testified JoAnn Hinckley. “We plan to let [the hospital treatment team] know all our plans.”

Hinckley, 48, has been on supervised trips many times in the past couple of years, often with his parents, but always with a hospital supervisor. He has gone bowling, to malls, restaurants and beaches.

Hinckley’s attorneys are asking U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman to issue orders that would allow day outings with supervision by his parents only.

Those outings would be confined within a 50-mile radius of St. Elizabeths Hospital in the District. Eventually, the attorneys ask that Hinckley be allowed to stay overnight at his parents’ home in Williamsburg.

But the first witness for the U.S. attorney yesterday expressed concerns with the parental supervised outings.

“They are two individuals who love their son. But they are getting on in years. Age and health are important considerations,” testified psychiatrist Dr. Robert Phillips.

John “Jack” W. Hinckley is 78. He walks slowly and stiffly behind his wife of 56 years. They also have a daughter and son who are older than John Jr.

The parents established the American Mental Health fund a few years ago to raise public awareness about mental illnesses, Mrs. Hinckley testified. They were retired in Colorado until moving to Williamsburg a few years ago.

“We wanted to be near our son,” said Mrs. Hinckley, who does not object to Secret Service agents shadowing the outings, as they have followed their car, eaten in restaurants and gone to theaters and bowling alleys close behind Hinckley.

Dr. Phillips brought up the possibility that news reporters and book writers would try to intercept Hinckley and his parents.

“Anything that appears in the press has a detrimental effect on Mr. Hinckley,” Dr. Phillips said. “Media attention is countertherapeutic.”

Mrs. Hinckley testified, “We do not want to talk to the media at all. We want them to respect our right to privacy.”

As attorneys, psychiatrists and hospital officials have advised, Mrs. Hinckley said she carries a cell phone and a long list of telephone numbers to hospitals and law-enforcement offices in case of unruly reporters or other problems.

On overnight stays, the parents would make certain that Hinckley swallows the daily 1 milligram pill of Risperdal that psychiatrist Dr. Robert Keisling said helps prevent a relapse into “narcissistic personality disorder.” The dosage is so small, he said, that Hinckley would have to go without it for months before there would be a noticeable effect.

About 15 years ago, Hinckley developed a relationship with another St. Elizabeths patient, Leslie deVeau, who had been found not guilty by reason of insanity for killing her daughter. The relationship has continued, although Miss deVeau was released a few years ago.

“She won’t be with us at all,” Mrs. Hinckley said of Miss deVeau, adhering to the written rules of supervision.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity at the end of a seven-week trial for shooting Mr. Reagan, press secretary James T. Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy J. McCarthy and Metropolitan Police Officer Thomas K. Delahanty at 2:20 p.m. March 30, 1981, in front of the Washington Hilton in Northwest.

Investigators learned that Hinckley, who aspired to be a writer of popular music and movies, had stalked actress Jodie Foster and had wounded the president to impress her.

“Yes, he talked a lot about Jodie Foster,” during the first years in St. Elizabeths, testified Dr. Keisling, but, “he has been pretty consistent in denial of any interest in Miss Foster at this time.”

During one outing to a bookstore, Secret Service agents reported that Hinckley showed interest in and fingered books about violence.

“He was thumbing through a large number of books, and this book just happened to be on the rack. As I understand it, he looked at the books but didn’t buy them,” said Dr. Keisling, who later testified that Hinckley no longer shows an addiction for reading books and writing.

Instead, Hinckley works about four hours each day in the hospital library and then wanders through acres of hospital grounds, catering to and feeding many wandering cats.

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