- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2006

Attorneys for John W. Hinckley Jr. are asking a federal judge to allow the would-be presidential assassin to stay at his parents’ house four nights at a time pending a move to expand his freedoms from a D.C. psychiatric hospital, court records show.

Hinckley, 51, who tried to kill President Reagan in 1981, was permitted to go on seven overnight trips to his parents’ house in Williamsburg after a judge’s ruling in December.

He has one trip left but is barred from taking any more releases from St. Elizabeths Hospital without a court order.

The U.S. attorney’s office last week objected to the move, saying there isn’t enough information available for government analysts to evaluate how Hinckley is faring on the overnight stays.

“The government recognizes, as it has in the past, that Mr. and Mrs. Hinckley have been a model of dedication to a child stricken with mental illness,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Zeno said in a memo to U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman last week.

“However, there are many issues regarding Mr. Hinckley’s return to live with his parents which must be addressed,” the memo states.

For instance, federal prosecutors said in court documents that they need to subpoena Hinckley’s medical records but note that they can’t get access until a court hearing is scheduled.

In addition, prosecutors said, psychiatrist John J. Lee, who agreed to meet with Hinckley during the overnight stays in Williamsburg, is “untested as a reporter of information about Mr. Hinckley.”

Hinckley’s attorneys were unavailable for comment yesterday.

In a memo filed Thursday, the attorneys called the government’s objection “wholly without merit,” saying the overnight stays have been therapeutic for their client.

Hinckley’s overnight trips to Williamsburg provide the most freedom he has had since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 in the shooting of Mr. Reagan, press secretary James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Metropolitan Police Officer Thomas Delahanty.

He said he shot the president to impress actress Jodie Foster, whom he did not know.

In recent years, Hinckley gradually has won increasing freedoms from St. Elizabeths, including short trips with his parents, such as a 2005 outing to the National Air and Space Museum, and unsupervised overnight stays in Williamsburg.

He has expressed a desire for finding a girlfriend on his trips to Williamsburg, but said it would be difficult.

“I can tell when a man or a woman is interested in me for my notoriety, and I don’t want a woman who is interested in me for that,” Hinckley said, according to a clinical assessment dated July 20, 2005, included in court filings.

Judge Friedman noted in his ruling in December that the goal of Hinckley’s treatment is “reintegration into society, whether that takes place in his parents’ community or elsewhere.”

Hinckley’s attorneys and the U.S. Attorney’s Office held a telephone conference call with Judge Friedman to discuss the dispute Friday.

Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Monty Wilkinson yesterday said government attorneys have no comment beyond what is in court pleadings.

He said Judge Friedman did not say during Friday’s conference call when he will decide whether to permit Hinckley more overnight stays.

A hearing on expanding Hinckley’s conditions of release has been scheduled for Nov. 6.

Mr. Wilkinson said government attorneys will not know what kind of loosened restrictions Hinckley’s attorneys will seek until next month.

Hinckley’s attorneys have said that the overnight trips have been a success.

“Mr. Hinckley has complied fully with all of the conditions of release, and not a single negative occurrence has been reported in connection with any of the trips,” Adam Proujansky, said in a memo to Judge Friedman.

Mr. Proujansky also questioned the concerns from prosecutors about the reliability of information about Hinckley’s overnight stays.

“There is nothing in the record to suggest that the hospital staff, Dr. Lee or Mr. Hinckley’s parents have not been completely truthful in their reporting of Mr. Hinckley’s behavior.”

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