Print options

November 29, 2011

Reagan Shooter Seeks More Freedom

A federal judge in Washington has begun hearings to consider whether the man who shot U.S. President Ronald Reagan can be allowed more time away from a Washington mental hospital and eventually released.

John Hinckley was found to be insane at his 1982 trial for the attempted assassination of President Reagan a year earlier. He has lived since at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a federal mental health facility.

A government lawyer said in court Hinckley was recently found browsing books about President Reagan and other presidential assassinations.

The government is arguing that Hinckley remains "a man capable of great violence" and "that this violence may be repeated."

Hinckley's lawyers are asking if the 56-year-old can be allowed visits of 17 to 24 days each at his mother's home. He has been allowed several visits in recent years. If the visits go well, the hospital staff is asking for the right to release Hinckley to live with his mother full-time and without further review by the court.

The hearings are expected to bring psychiatrists from both sides to testify about Hinckley's mental state. Secret Service agents are also expected to testify.

Hinckley fired six bullets in quick succession at President Reagan as he left a Washington hotel in 1981. The president was shot in the chest, but recovered and served two terms in office. A secret service agent and police officer were also wounded, along with Reagan's press secretary, who was shot in the head and permanently disabled.

Reagan died of pneumonia in 2004 at the age of 93.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.