John Hinckley, the would-be assassin of President Ronald Reagan, officially will be released this month from the D.C. psychiatric hospital where he has lived the last three decades.
Mr. Hinckley will leave St. Elizabeths Hospital in Southeast on Sept. 10 to begin living full-time with his 90-year-old mother, Jo Ann, in her home in Williamsburg, Virginia.
A federal judge ruled July 27 that Mr. Hinckley is no longer a danger and could be granted “convalescent leave” from the psychiatric hospital, noting that Mr. Hinckley has not exhibited symptoms of major depression or psychotic disorder for more than 20 years.
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman had ruled that Mr. Hinckley could leave as soon as Aug. 5. However, scheduling conflicts with doctors overseeing his care prevented him from obtaining an earlier permanent release, his longtime attorney, Barry Levine, has said.
“The very carefully considered decision by the court to release Mr. Hinckley based on the copious evidence by medical professionals and government expert witnesses should give great comfort to a concerned citizenry that the mental health system and the judicial system worked and worked well,” Mr. Levine said Thursday in a statement. “People of good will should feel good about Mr. Hinckley’s recovery and wish him well.”
He declined to provide additional details about the timing of his client’s release.
Mr. Hinckley was committed to the hospital after being found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 1981 shooting, in which he injured President Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady and two other men. The would-be assassin said at the time that he tried to kill the president in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster.
A medical examiner ruled that Brady’s death in 2014 was a homicide that resulted from the 1981 shooting, but prosecutors decided not to pursue charges against Mr. Hinckley.
The imminent release of the 61-year-old Mr. Hinckley caps a series of incremental rulings issued over the last 12 years that have gradually allowed him more freedom and extended the amount of time he has been able to spend away from the hospital at his mother’s home.
In the time since he was granted full-time leave, Mr. Hinckley has left the hospital to stay with his mother on a previously scheduled 17-day visit.
Photos taken by the Daily Mail of Mr. Hinckley’s time out during that trip showed him grabbing a bite at a Subway sandwich shop on Sunday in Williamsburg while his mother waited in the car.
Mr. Levine previously told The Washington Times that his client’s release from St. Elizabeths had been delayed as a result of scheduling conflicts between mental health treatment professionals who had to meet and sign off on his release paperwork.
Mr. Hinckley is expected to establish residency in Virginia. After doing so he will likely be able to vote in the upcoming presidential election so long as he establishes residency in the commonwealth and registers to vote by Oct. 17.
Mr. Hinckley, who has been occasionally trailed by the Secret Service while in Williamsburg, must find at least part-time employment or volunteer work. He also will have to participate in individual and group therapy, and he’ll have to return to Washington at least once a month so doctors can evaluate his mental state.
He also is limited in where he can travel. The conditions of his leave will be re-evaluated in 12 to 18 months, and some requirements could be modified or dropped.
⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.