A federal judge in Washington is beginning several days of hearings on Wednesday to consider whether the man who shot U.S. President Ronald Reagan can be allowed more time away from a Washington mental hospital.
John Hinckley was found to be insane at his 1982 trial for the attempted assassination of President Reagan a year earlier. He has since lived at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a federal mental health facility.
Hinckley's lawyers will ask the judge if the 56-year-old can be allowed a series of visits of 17 to 24 days each at his mother's home. He has been allowed several visits to his mother's home in Virginia 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 any further review by the court.
The hearings are expected to bring psychiatrists from both sides to testify about Hinckley's current mental state. Secret Service agents are also expected to testify.
Government lawyers are arguing that Hinckley remains “a man capable of great violence” and “that this violence may be repeated.”
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 Mr. Reagan's press secretary, who was shot in the head and permanently disabled.
Mr. Reagan died in 2004 at the age of 93.