- The Washington Times - Monday, September 19, 2005

A psychologist yesterday testified that John W. Hinckley Jr.’s mental state has improved since he shot President Reagan and that the would-be assassin should be allowed to visit his parents and stay overnight with them in their home in Williamsburg.

“I believe with a reasonable degree of psychiatric certainty … that Mr. Hinckley poses a low risk,” Paul Montalbano said during daylong testimony in federal court.

Hinckley, 50, has been confined at St. Elizabeths Hospital since he was acquitted in 1982 of wounding Mr. Reagan and four others. He showed no emotion yesterday as his attorneys sought permission for him to progressively spend up to eight days and seven nights at his parents’ home and sometimes with his brother, sister and in-laws.

Hearing on whether Hinckley should be allowed to visit his parents overnight will continue today in U.S. District Court.

Hinckley’s parents have visited the District several times in the past year to accompany their son on unsupervised trips to parks, museums, shopping centers and restaurants. Routinely, he is allowed to wander about the 2,900-acre grounds of the mental hospital unsupervised.

Mr. Montalbano said Hinckley abides by rules and regulations. His rehabilitation would be increased if he were allowed to walk through the vast community around his parents’ home, which includes six golf courses, shopping centers, a school and historical sites, the hospital psychologist testified.

“Isolation is not a good thing,” Mr. Montalbano said. “In his case, it is a potential problem. He is intensely self-absorbed.”

Hinckley shot Mr. Reagan in 1981, saying he was trying to impress actress Jodie Foster.

Since entering St. Elizabeths, he has shown interest in a female chaplain, a psychiatric intern and former patient Leslie deVeau, Mr. Montalbano said. It was a good sign when Hinckley ended his relationship with Miss deVeau in January because she would not discuss their relationship with his treatment team, he said.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman asked about the effect of reintegrating Hinckley into society where he would have contact with women.

Mr. Montalbano said it has been many years since Hinckley has suffered from the symptoms that led him to four suicide attempts and the shooting of the president.

The Secret Service has Hinckley under surveillance during his trips.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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