Washington, DC – A federal judge in the nation’s capital on Monday said he would grant an unconditional release to the man who tried to assassinate former President Ronald Reagan.
U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman said he would issue an order this week to grant the unconditional release next summer when John Hinkley, Jr. completes a final nine-month observation period, The Washington Post reported.
Hinkley tried to assassinate former President Reagan on March 30, 1981.
The move to release him unconditionally came after the U.S. Department of Justice last week agreed to end its court and medical supervision of the would-be Presidential assassin, The Washington Post reported.
“At this point the ball is in Mr. Hinckley’s hands,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kacie Weston said. “The government agrees if he continues to do what he is doing between now and June 2022, he would be granted his unconditional release.”
Hinkley was freed from the St. Elizabeth’s Hospital psychiatric facility in 2016 and went to live with his mother under court-imposed restrictions in Williamsburg, Virginia, WRC reported.
During that time, he was required to have doctors and therapists oversee his medication and therapy and he was prohibited from having any guns.
He was also prohibited from contacting former President Reagan’s family members, his other victims and their family members, or actress Jodie Foster, whom Hinkley was obsessed with when he tried to assassinate the President, WRC reported.
Hinkley said his motive in trying to kill President Reagan was to impress Foster because he thought the celebrity of it would make him appeal to her as an equal.
A federal jury found the would-be Presidential assassin not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, The Washington Post reported.
Hinkley was 40 years old when he shot and wounded President Reagan in front of the Washington Hilton hotel as cameras rolled.
President Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, was paralyzed by Hinkley’s bullets and died of complications in 2014.
U.S. Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy and DC Metropolitan Police Officer Thomas Delahanty were also wounded in the assassination attempt that used exploding “Devastator” bullets in a .22-caliber pistol, The Washington Post reported.
In recent years, Hinkley was granted permission by the court to move out of his mother’s home and to display his artwork in public.
However, he still has to give notice in advance if he wants to travel more than 75 miles from home and he’s barred from going anywhere that a U.S. Secret Service protectee is present, WRC reported.
Hi mother died in July, The Washington Post reported.
Weston said that he’d handled that adjustment quite well.
“Assuming everything is maintained the way [Hinckley] has and that he’s adapting and adjusting to changes, [the government’s medical expert] too would agree that unconditional release in June 2022 is appropriate and that Mr. Hinckley would have met his burden [of proving] that he is no longer a danger due to mental illness,” the prosecutor said.
Friedman, in his decision to release Hinkley unconditionally, said the man has had no symptoms of active mental illness, no exhibitions of violent behavior, and no interest in weapons since 1983, WRC reported.
“If he hadn’t tried to kill the president, he would have been unconditionally released a long, long, long time ago,” the judge wrote. “But everybody is comfortable now after all of the studies, all of the analysis and all of the interviews and all of the experience with Mr. Hinkley.”