Hinckley, Reagan's would-be assassin, to be granted unconditional release

·Senior Writer
·2-min read

A federal judge on Monday approved the unconditional release of John Hinckley Jr., who wounded President Ronald Reagan and three others in a failed assassination attempt in 1981.

During a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman said he plans to remove Hinckley from all court supervision next June, provided he remains mentally stable and continues to follow the court-issued rules imposed on him. Friedman said he will formally make his ruling on Hinckley’s release later this week.

Hinckley, 66, has been in Williamsburg, Va., since a court granted his supervised release from a mental health facility in 2016.

John Hinckley Jr., wearing a suit jacket and unbuttoned-at-the-top shirt, looks out the window of the backseat of a blue car.
John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. district court in Washington in 2003. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Among the court-imposed conditions: Hinckley must receive regular doctor supervision and psychiatric care; must not own a gun; and must have no contact with Reagan’s children, other victims or their families, or actress Jodie Foster, whom he was obsessed with at the time of the shooting.

Hinckley shot and nearly killed Reagan outside a Washington hotel on March 30, 1981. James Brady, Reagan's press secretary, was paralyzed in the shooting. A Secret Service agent and a Washington police officer were also injured.

Secret Service agents with guns drawn swarm around Thomas Delahanty and James Brady, both in prone position, while apprehending shooting suspect John Hinckley Jr.
Secret Service agents swarm around policeman Thomas Delahanty and White House press secretary James Brady outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981, while Hinckley is apprehended at right. (Dirck Halstead/Liaison)

Barry Levine, Hinckley's attorney, had asked for his unconditional release, arguing that he no longer poses a threat.

"There is no evidence of danger whatsoever," Levine said Monday.

In 1982, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity. After the verdict, he was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he stayed for more than three decades until 2016, when the court granted him convalescent leave to live full time with his mother in Williamsburg. She died in her sleep in August at age 95.

Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing.
Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing in San Diego on Aug. 27. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

Monday’s ruling comes one month after California’s parole board voted to free Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Two of RFK’s sons said they supported releasing the 77-year-old Sirhan, who has spent more than 50 years in prison for the killing, but six of Kennedy’s other children have said Sirhan should remain in prison.

That recommendation, which was not opposed by prosecutors, is now under review by the legal division of the Board of Parole Hearings. It will then likely be referred to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has not said whether he would approve Sirhan’s release.

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