Reagan Shooter Hinckley
'Ready To Be Released'

By Toby Harnden
The Telegraph - UK

WASHINGTON -- The loner who shot Ronald Reagan in 1981 is said by his doctors to have been cured of the mental illness that led to his assassination attempt.
John Hinckley, 48, has been confined to secure wards in St Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington for more than 20 years after being found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity, but could soon be released without supervision.
After making several visits, accompanied by psychiatric staff, to bowling alleys, bookshops, cinemas and the beach over the past three years, Hinckley has applied for 10 unsupervised visits to his parents' home in Virginia, including five overnight stays.
In court documents, Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, stated: "It is undisputed that Mr Hinckley's psychosis and depression have been in full remission and that he has shown no symptoms thereof for over a decade.
"Mr Hinckley does not pose a risk of danger to himself or others now or in the reasonable future."
Martha Knisley, Washington's mental health director, agreed that Hinckley's mental disorders were in full remission and said his trips outside had gone well.
"He handled these privileges responsibly," she said in a letter filed with a federal court in preparation for a hearing next week.
"Notably the community outings were without incident and did not result in any problematic recognition of him or incur significant media attention."
Several of Hinckley's day trips around Washington have been with Leslie deVeau, a former patient at St Elizabeth's who was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the murder of her 10-year-old daughter, Erin, in 1982.
Court documents said the couple's relationship "has reportedly changed from romantic to platonic". DeVeau, 49, has been released from St Elizabeth's but visits Hinckley every week.
Previous applications for release were withdrawn due to Hinckley's obsession with the actress Jodie Foster. In 1987, he was discovered with 20 photos of Foster, with whom he had become fixated after seeing her in the film Taxi Driver.
He was also found to have corresponded with the serial killer Ted Bundy and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1985.
Prosecutors, who said Hinckley shot Mr Reagan to impress Foster, oppose the leave request. "Because of Mr Hinckley's history of deception and violence, the government objects to Mr Hinckley's motion for limited conditional release."
Hinckley fired six shots outside the Washington Hilton in March 1981 after approaching the presidential entourage.
He wounded Mr Reagan, James Brady, his press secretary, Timothy McCarthy, a secret service officer, and Thomas Delahunty, a police officer.
© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2003.




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