Judge grants Reagan assailant right to visit parents overnight
WASHINGTON – A federal judge Friday loosened the restrictions on John W. Hinckley Jr., allowing the hospitalized presidential assailant to spend seven overnight visits with his parents in Williamsburg, Va.Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981, had been permitted to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington for outings around the nation’s capital. He wanted to make longer trips and travel outside the area to his parents’ community in southeastern Virginia.U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled Hinckley could be allowed initially three, three-night visits and later another four, four-night visits. It was not known Friday when Hinckley will make the visits.The Justice Department could appeal the decision. Justice Spokesman John Nowacki said the order was being reviewed.Friedman said Hinckley, 50, “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.The government had opposed Hinckley’s requests to visit the gated community where his parents live in Williamsburg, a three-hour drive from the forensic hospital where he has been held since 1982.When Hinckley shot Reagan and three other people in 1981 as the president emerged from a downtown hotel, he was suffering from major depression and a psychotic disorder that led to an obsession with actress Jodie Foster.Hinckley, found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, said he shot Reagan to impress Foster.His doctors have said his depression and psychosis are in full remission.Since last year, Hinckley has been allowed occasional local overnight visits with his parents within a 50-mile radius of St. Elizabeths Hospital.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, as well to Hinckley’s and the government’s lawyers, an itinerary, along with a schedule and goal, for each of the initial three-day visits. The court is to decide later whether it will 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 directed. Hinckley is taking Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug.He also will be allowed supervised used of the Internet. However, any attempt to contact the 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. Friedman wrote that such activities are “premature at this time.”Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine, did not immediately returned a call seeking comment late Friday.