- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 9, 2004

The sister of John Hinckley Jr. told a federal judge yesterday she could travel from her home in Dallas to help supervise her brother if he is allowed to leave the St. Elizabeths Hospital to visit their parents in Virginia.

“It would be a wonderful way to get back together,” Diane Sims said.

The offer by Mrs. Sims came during the second day of hearings on whether Hinckley should be allowed to take extended, unsupervised visits. Hinckley was confined to the St. Elizabeths mental hospital after shooting President Reagan in 1981.

Federal prosecutors began to present their case yesterday that Hinckley should not be given more freedom because he is still a danger to himself and others. The hearing is expected to end by Friday.

Hinckley, 49, has been granted eight unsupervised leaves around the region this year with his parents.

Hinckley’s attorneys and family now want U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman to allow him to stay in his parents home in Williamsburg four consecutive days and nights every two weeks.

They say Hinckley’s recent trips were without incident, which shows he presents no danger to the public.

Hospital officials suggest that Hinckley should spend five days and nights over Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family this year before going ahead with regular visits.

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

U.S. attorneys have argued against releases or furloughs for Hinckley, saying he 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.

Government lawyers raised questions yesterday whether Hinckley’s parents, both well into their 70s, might have difficulty supervising Hinckley on more extended visits.

Mrs. Sims testified that she agrees with her mother, JoAnn Hinckley, who said a year ago that she does not think her son is mentally ill. Mrs. Sims also said she recognized in 1981 that her younger brother was “down sometimes” but was “very naive about mental illness.”

Federal officials questioned her sincerity by pointing out she has visited Hinckley just four times in his 23-year stay. Mrs. Sims said she had family duties, including care for her two children.

Hospital doctors said they did not discuss with Hinckley the death of Mr. Reagan, who died in June after a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of the testimony has focused on Hinckley’s relationship with Leslie deVeau, a former St. Elizabeths patient. The relationship began soon after Hinckley was confined and continued after Miss deVeau’s 1985 release.

Psychiatrists, psychologists and hospital officials said the relationship was romantic until a couple years ago when Miss deVeau could no longer endure federal investigators and news reporters invading her privacy.

U.S. attorneys are examining the relationship because Hinckley had tried to kill the president to impress a woman. They contend Hinckley’s violent past is linked to his feelings about women.

Expert witnesses for Hinckley have testified he is in remission from insanity symptoms and has accepted a friendship with Miss deVeau. They talk twice daily on the phone and visit each weekend when she brings food for cats kept by Hinckley.

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