- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

The hearing on a request by John Hinckley Jr. to have more unsupervised leave from St. Elizabeths Hospital came to an abrupt recess yesterday when his attorney said medical professionals will testify about their conversations with Hinckley’s ex-girlfriend.

The hearing on whether Hinckley, 49, should be allowed to have extended visits to his parents’ Williamsburg home was recessed for Veterans Day and will resume tomorrow.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman already has allowed Hinckley eight short unsupervised visits this year in the local area with his parents. The testimony tomorrow likely will help the judge make a decision, but no deadline has been set.

U.S. attorneys say if ex-girlfriend Leslie deVeau broke off her continued friendship with Hinckley, the experience could trigger a violent episode like the one in 1981, when Hinckley tried to assassinate President Reagan. Mr. Reagan, presidential press secretary James Brady and two law-enforcement officers were injured in the shooting.

Hinckley told investigators that he shot the president to impress actress Jodie Foster, who ignored his letters, poems and attempts to meet her at Yale University.

Hinckley was acquitted by reason of insanity and sent to St. Elizabeths.

Mr. Brady was left permanently disabled by the shooting, and Mr. Reagan was seriously wounded. Mr. Reagan died in June after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease.

Psychiatrist Raymond Patterson said yesterday he asked Hinckley about his thoughts on Mr. Reagan and Hinckley replied, “It sounds funny coming from me, an attempted assassin, but I thought he was a great man.”

U.S. attorneys say Hinckley has a “history of deception and violence.” Hinckley has praised Adolf Hitler. He also wrote to serial killer Ted Bundy before his execution and to imprisoned mass murderer Charles Manson.

Federal prosecutors and witnesses have testified that Miss deVeau had refused to be interviewed without her attorney present and that such an interview would be mostly unhelpful.

“Having a counsel in the room distorts the process,” psychiatrist Robert T.M. Phillips said.

Mental health professionals think the interview will clarify questions about Hinckley and the true nature of his relationship with Miss deVeau.

“There is a substantial risk factor because the evaluation of the relationship with Miss deVeau is incomplete,” Dr. Patterson said.

Medical specialists have testified that Hinckley has behaved as if he has recovered from the narcissistic personality and depression that largely caused him to attempt the assassination. But Dr. Patterson and Dr. Phillips said the specialists have not decided whether Hinckley would be dangerous when away from the hospital.

“The relationship with a significant other is important,” Dr. Patterson said. “Miss deVeau is the most significant relationship in [Hinckley’s] life.”

Hinckley still wears a wedding-type ring from Miss deVeau, although she has said the romance cooled to a friendship about three years ago.

They talk frequently on the phone, and Miss deVeau visits the hospital on weekends to give Hinckley food to feed his cats. She was released from the hospital in 1985 and has said she ended the romantic relationship because she no longer could endure federal investigators and reporters invading her privacy.

Other medical professionals testified that Hinckley has accepted the friendship relationship, but Dr. Patterson expressed doubts.

“I asked him if he still loves her [and] he said he still loves her,” Dr. Patterson said.

Concerns also have been raised that Miss deVeau will rebuff Hinckley’s invitation to visit him in Williamsburg, which could send him into another violent depression.

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