- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 24, 2004

A federal judge yesterday denied John Hinckley Jr.’s request for extended, unsupervised visits to his parents’ home, but allowed the would-be presidential assassin incremental steps toward greater freedom from the mental hospital that has confined him since 1982.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman rejected Hinckley’s request for four-day, unsupervised visits to his parents’ home in Williamsburg every two weeks. In a 53-page order and opinion yesterday, Judge Friedman allowed Hinckley to take up to six trips with his parents within 50 miles of the District. The trips cannot last longer than 32 hours.

The judge, who has gradually allowed Hinckley greater freedom to move around St. Elizabeths Hospital and the metropolitan area, said the court shares the opinion of mental-health experts “that to suddenly stop the conditional releases altogether would be anti-therapeutic.”

Judge Friedman issued his ruling eight days after a hearing on Hinckley’s request.

“The proposal is too much, too soon, too fast, with insufficient planning and hospital analysis and oversight,” Judge Friedman said.

Psychiatrists, psychologists and a hospital treatment team testified that Hinckley is safe to be released under his parents’ supervision because he is in remission from major depression, a psychotic disorder and a narcissistic personality disorder.

Hinckley attorney Barry William Levine stressed that his client had been obedient and caused no problems on outings the past year, including two overnight visits with his parents.

Federal prosecutors argued that Hinckley is still mentally ill and has lied about his involvement with former patient Leslie DeVeau.

Judge Friedman ordered that Hinckley have no contact with Miss DeVeau while he is on a conditional release. They can resume daily telephone conversations and weekly visits at St. Elizabeths after Hinckley returns from his off-campus trips, the judge ruled.

In addition, one of Hinckley’s parents must always be with him during his trips away from the hospital, and the Hinckleys must immediately report to hospital authorities any changes in their son’s demeanor.

Hinckley, 49, was acquitted by reason of insanity for shooting President 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 said he shot the president to impress actress Jodie Foster.

Hinckley and Miss DeVeau became romantically involved after meeting in St. Elizabeths, where she was confined after being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the slaying of her 10-year-old daughter.

Some witnesses testified the Hinckley-DeVeau relationship, which is now described as a “friendship,” is troublesome, and assistant U.S. attorneys likened it to Hinckley’s infatuation with Miss Foster.

U.S. attorneys have argued against releases or furloughs for Hinckley, saying he has a “history of deception and violence.” He has praised Adolf Hitler. He also wrote to serial killer Ted Bundy and to imprisoned mass murderer Charles Manson.

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