Judge grants Reagan assailant right to visit parents overnight
WASHINGTON – John W. Hinckley Jr., who shot President Reagan nearly a quarter-century ago, may soon get what he has long sought: a long home visit with his parents.Hinckley, 50, may spend seven overnight visits with his parents at their home in a gated community in Williamsburg, Va., a federal judge ruled Friday. It will be the farthest afield he has traveled since he was found innocent by reason of insanity in 1982, a year after he wounded Reagan and three others.Since Hinckley was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Washington, he has left the grounds for 200 brief outings around the capital. He wanted to make longer trips and travel outside the area to his parents’ community in southeastern Virginia, some 150 miles from Washington.U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled that Hinckley could be allowed initially three, three-night visits and later four, four-night visits to his parents’ home. It was not known Friday when Hinckley will make the visits.The Justice Department, which had opposed Hinckley’s request, could appeal the decision. Spokesman John Nowacki said the order was being reviewed.Friedman said Hinckley “is not permitted to leave one or both parents’ supervision at any time during the course of the conditional release” except when specified under a hospital-administered treatment plan – and then the separation may be no longer than 90 minutes.Since last year, Hinckley has been allowed occasional local overnight visits with his parents within a 50-mile radius of St. Elizabeths.Friedman ordered that during the visits, Hinckley is not to spend more than 90 minutes away from their supervision. The hospital must assess the success of each visit before a subsequent visit can be allowed, according to the order.The hospital also must submit to the court, lawyers for Hinckley and the government, an itinerary, along with a schedule and goal, for each of the initial three-day visits. The court will decide later whether to allow Hinckley to make the longer visits.Hinckley will have to meet with a psychiatrist at least once during each visit and check in daily by phone with the hospital, Friedman said. He also will be allowed supervised use of the Internet.However, any attempt to contact the news media will be considered a violation of his conditional release, as will be any contact with Leslie DeVeau, a former girlfriend of 22 years and ex-patient at the hospital, according to the ruling.The goal of the visits is to allow Hinckley to be “acclimated” to his parents’ community and relearn skills, including gardening, cooking and taking out the garbage, Friedman wrote in his opinion.The judge rejected a proposal from the hospital that Hinckley be allowed to get a driver’s license and seek work and training. He wrote that such activities are “premature at this time.”Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine, did not immediately return a call seeking comment late Friday.Hinckley shot Reagan, press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Washington policeman in March 1981 as the president emerged from a downtown hotel. He was found to be suffering from major depression and a psychotic disorder that led to an obsession with actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley said he shot Reagan to impress Foster.Doctors have said Hinckley’s depression and psychosis are in full remission. He continues to take Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug.