Lawyer: Hinckley should get longer visits home

John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington in this photo from November 2003.Evan Vucci / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Presidential assailant John Hinckley’s four-day visits away from a mental hospital every six weeks should be expanded, his lawyer said Monday, declaring “there is just no need” to supervise the man who shot Ronald Reagan.

In U.S. District Court, attorney Barry Levine countered contentions by federal prosecutors that Hinckley’s aging parents in Williamsburg, Va., are not in a position to adequately supervise their son. Hinckley’s father is in his 80s and his mother just turned 80.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said the parental health issue may require Hinckley’s brother or his sister to replace Hinckley’s father in a custodial role. That would be difficult, said Levine, because both brother and sister live a great distance away.

The judge will decide next month whether to continue Hinckley’s four-day visits every six weeks on trips monitored by the Secret Service. Next spring, the judge will decide on any additional proposals for greater or less freedom for Hinckley.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting of the president, press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Washington policeman.

Levine said Hinckley poses “no danger to himself or others.” He promised to submit a plan for Hinckley’s periodic releases from St. Elizabeths Hospital that is “far more grand than what we have today.”

The goal is to “fundamentally change John’s life,” Levine said after the court proceeding.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Zeno said there is “tension” between father and son and that Hinckley’s mother is recovering from major surgery that requires monthly treatments.

Levine disputed that, saying it’s “ridiculous” to suggest there’s any tension and that the doctor for Hinckley’s mother says she is “just fine.” Hinckley’s father, Levine said, is just getting old.

Hinckley has said he shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster. According to testimony at Hinckley’s trial, he was suffering from depression and a psychotic disorder that led to an obsession with the actress.