- The Washington Times - Friday, November 12, 2004

The ex-girlfriend of John W. Hinckley Jr. said the breakup did not leave him longing for or fantasizing about her, a psychiatrist said at a hearing yesterday about whether Hinckley should be granted extended leaves from St. Elizabeths Hospital.

U.S. attorneys say former girlfriend Leslie deVeau’s version of the 22-year relationship and the breakup is critical because Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan in 1981 to impress movie star Jodie Foster after she rebuffed his delusionary romantic overtures.

The four-day hearing on whether Hinckley should be allowed to take bimonthly, four-day visits to his parents’ Williamsburg home is scheduled to conclude Monday afternoon with closing arguments by attorneys.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman said he would render a decision as quickly as possible but gave no deadline. Hinckley has asked to begin the trips over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Judge Friedman allowed Hinckley, 49, in January to take day trips with his parents around the region.

Hinckley’s doctors say the trips have been therapeutic for him, and the sightseeing trips into the District have been without incident.

Hospital officials suggest that Hinckley should first spend five days and nights over this Thanksgiving and Christmas, then progress to regularly scheduled four-day visits.

After independent psychiatrists employed by the government raised questions earlier this week about Hinckley’s relationship with Miss deVeau, Hinckley’s therapists and doctors at St. Elizabeths Hospital hastily arranged an interview with her.

Miss deVeau, who met Hinckley in the 1980s when she also was a patient at the mental hospital, spoke with his treatment team for two hours Wednesday morning while accompanied by her attorney.

Government psychiatrists wanted the interview but said the attorney’s presence tainted Miss deVeau’s responses. They also said the 11th-hour interview demonstrated a failure by Hinckley’s treatment team at St. Elizabeths to adequately evaluate their patient or plan for his progress toward more freedom.

Hinckley’s therapist, forensic psychiatrist Sidney Binks, testified that Miss deVeau, 61, appeared “open and honest” during the interview and her version of events matched Hinckley’s earlier accounts of the relationship, which went from a romantic affair to a “close friendship,” beginning in late 2000.

“She said [Hinckley] understood her needs and was able to adapt to them,” Dr. Binks said. “She said it did not appear that he was longing for her or fantasizing about her.”

Miss deVeau, a former social worker, was sent to St. Elizabeths after she fatally shot her sleeping, 10-year-old daughter, Erin, in 1982. Miss deVeau attempted to kill herself during the episode, but misfired and mutilated her left arm, which doctors amputated.

Miss deVeau, who was released from St. Elizabeths in 1990, said she began to detach from Hinckley in 2000 to avoid the scrutiny of the public and federal investigators.

“They stopped having any physical contact altogether,” Dr. Binks said. “On the phone, for instance, the conversations did not include any ‘I love yous.’”

He also said Miss deVeau went from having lunch with Hinckley every day to talking two him twice a day on the phone and briefly visiting on weekends to deliver cat food for his pets.

Dr. Binks and a psychologist specializing in risk assessment at St. Elizabeths testified that Miss deVeau’s version of the breakup demonstrated Hinckley’s ability to deal with rejection and it underscored their opinion that he would pose no danger to others.

Independent psychiatrists retained by the government testified that Miss deVeau’s account of the breakup raised more questions than gave answers. They said Hinckley should not be given more freedom amid lingering uncertainty about his relationships or his mental state.

Government psychiatrist Dr. Robert T.M. Phillips said Hinckley and Miss deVeau have displayed a pattern of deception. Neither informed therapists in 2000 when Miss deVeau brought Hinckley a book about Miss Foster. And more recently, neither voluntarily disclosed that she brought Hinckley a June, 12, 2004, newspaper detailing the state funeral for Mr. Reagan.

“That is of great concern to me,” Dr. Phillips said.

Hinckley’s attorney, Barry W. Levine, objected to remarks about the newspaper, saying, “everybody had a copy.”

Judge Friedman retorted: “Everybody isn’t John Hinckley.”

Dr. Phillips testified that Hinckley’s primary problems are depression, narcissism and self-disclosure. He also said Hinckley’s arrival at St. Elizabeths by helicopter and other unusual steps taken by his doctors, including the last-minute interview with Miss deVeau, only feed the narcissism.

Hinckley was acquitted by reason of insanity in shooting Mr. Reagan, presidential Press Secretary James Brady and two law-enforcement officers in 1981.

Mr. Reagan was seriously wounded, and Mr. Brady was permanently disabled. Hinckley has praised Adolf Hitler. He also wrote to serial killer Ted Bundy before his execution and to imprisoned mass murderer Charles Manson.

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