- The Washington Times - Friday, December 30, 2005

A federal judge yesterday granted John W. Hinckley Jr. permission for seven overnight visits with his parents at their home in Williamsburg, loosening the restrictions on the would-be presidential assassin’s supervised travels despite government protests.

Hinckley, 50, has been confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast since 1982 after being found not guilty by reason of insanity for shooting President Reagan and three others in March 1981. He said he shot Mr. Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled that Hinckley will be allowed three three-night visits and another four four-night visits to his parents’ home. It was not known last night when Hinckley will make the visits.

The Justice Department could appeal the decision. Spokesman John Nowacki said the order was being reviewed.

Hinckley previously had been allowed to leave the hospital only for supervised outings around the District.

Hinckley’s doctors have testified that Hinckley is in full or nearly complete remission from major depression, psychosis, suicidal tendencies and a narcissistic personality disorder.

But U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Zeno said Hinckley’s infatuation with women has continued in prison, pointing to his 22-year relationship with inmate Leslie deVeau and friendship with a female chaplain.

“Mr. Hinckley sought out to kill the most powerful man in the world,” Mr. Zeno said during closing arguments at a hearing in September. “He also continues to engage in inappropriate relationships. … His conception about his relationship with women is a risk factor.”

Hinckley’s attorney, Barry W. Levine, said his client had never tried to escape in more than 200 outings and 14 overnight leaves from the hospital.

Judge Friedman put a series of conditions on Hinckley’s out-of-town visits, ruling Hinckley cannot leave his parents’ supervision, that they must make telephone contact with the hospital at least once a day during each outing and that he have no contact with Miss deVeau.

“The government argued strenuously that it was not certain how Mr. Hinckley was handling the end of his romantic relationship with Ms. deVeau and that his potentially adverse reaction was a major risk factor in a relapse of his mental illnesses,” Judge Friedman wrote.

Judge Friedman ordered that during the visits to the gated community where his parents live, Hinckley is not to spend more than 90 minutes away from their supervision. The hospital must assess the success of each visit before a subsequent visit can be allowed.

The hospital also must submit an itinerary to the court, as well to Hinckley’s and the government’s lawyers, along with a schedule and goal for each of the initial three-day visits. The court is to decide later whether it will allow Hinckley to make the longer visits.

Hinckley will have to meet with a psychiatrist at least once during each visit and check in daily by phone with the hospital, Judge Friedman directed. Hinckley is taking Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug.

He also will be allowed supervised use of the Internet. However, any attempt to contact reporters will be considered a violation of his conditional release.

The goal of the visits is to allow Hinckley to be “acclimated” to his parents’ community and relearn skills, including gardening, cooking and taking out the garbage, Judge Friedman wrote.

The judge rejected a proposal from the hospital that Hinckley be allowed to get a driver’s license and seek work and training. He wrote that such activities are “premature at this time.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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