Tuesday, September 2, 2003

A decision was postponed on John Hinckley Jr.’s request for more freedom from the mental hospital in Southeast where he was incarcerated in 1982 for attempting to assassinate President Reagan.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ruled there was not enough time yesterday to hear experts, who were expected to testify that Hinckley’s mental status would allow him safely to take unsupervised leave from St. Elizabeths Hospital at 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.

Judge Friedman rescheduled the hearings for Nov. 3 and/or Nov. 17, depending upon the experts’ schedules.

Courtroom spectators yesterday said Hinckley, dressed casually, showed no emotion.

On March 30, 1981, Hinckley fired six shots outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Northwest, wounding Mr. Reagan, White House Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy and Metropolitan Police Officer Thomas Delahanty. His motive for the attempted assassination was to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was infatuated. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and taken to St. Elizabeths.

On Jan. 15, 1999, the U.S. Court of Appeals allowed supervised releases for Hinckley. Psychiatric staff members went with him to bowling alleys, bookstores, movies and beaches.

For one month in 2000, Hinckley was allowed unsupervised furloughs, but caretakers found he had smuggled into his room a book and more than 50 pictures of Miss Foster.

Attorneys now are asking that Hinckley be allowed 10 unsupervised trips, including five overnight stays, to his parents’ home in Williamsburg.

“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,” attorney Barry Levine stated in court records.

U.S. attorneys have argued against any releases or furloughs for Hinckley. They charge that he has a “history of deception and violence.” Hinckley has praised Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, and has written to serial killer Ted Bundy before his execution and to mass murderer Charles Manson.

In 1979, Hinckley was arrested with three pistols in his luggage as he followed President Carter during his re-election campaign.

The youngest of three children, Hinckley was born May 29, 1955, in Ardmore, Okla. He was 17 when he left home and went to Hollywood in 1976 with aspirations to write popular music.

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