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Judge allows Hinckley more visits home

Associated Press / May 13, 2011

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WASHINGTON — The man who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan 30 years ago can make additional visits to his mother’s house from the psychiatric hospital where he is committed, a judge has ruled.

US District Judge Paul Friedman ruled Wednesday that John Hinckley Jr. can spend extra time away from St. Elizabeths Hospital. The actual number of visits will be determined in a future order from the judge, said Bill Miller, a spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Washington.

The hospital will file a plan this month or in June for the additional releases, and the judge set an October hearing to discuss it in detail.

“He agrees with us that there needs to be a hearing to discuss this issue more fully, and there needs to be a plan for these releases,’’ Miller said.

The decision was made during a teleconference between the judge and lawyers.

Barry Levine, a lawyer for Hinckley, did not immediately return a call seeking comment yesterday.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity after shooting Reagan on March 30, 1981, as he left a Washington hotel. Hinckley has said he shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster. Press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent, and a police officer were shot and wounded.

Hinckley has received increased freedom from the hospital in recent years, as his lawyers have argued that his mental health has improved. In 2009, for instance, Friedman ruled that Hinckley could apply for a driver’s license and increase the length of his visits from his hospital to his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Va., from six nights at a time to nine.

The judge directed Hinckley to carry a GPS-enabled cellphone while out of his mother’s supervision.

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