Earlier this year U.S. Secret Service agents observed John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan and three other men in a 1981 assassination attempt, go to a bookstore to read about President Reagan and presidential assassinations. The disclosure was revealed by federal prosecutors as they argued against a request for conditional releases and the eventual release of Hinckley to his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Va.
Judge Paul Friedman is holding a multi-day hearing in Washington, D.C. to consider the request by St. Elisabeth’s Hospital and Hinckley’s lawyers to permit Hinckley to have expanded visits with his mother for durations up to 24 days. Judge Friedman last approved 12 visits of up to 10 nights to his mother’s residence in 2009.
Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Chasson argued before the court that Hinckley was still deceptive in his nature and not honest with mental health professionals about his activities during his conditional releases.
Chasson said that on July 24, 2011 Hinckley claimed he was going to attend a movie but U.S. Secret Service agents conducting surveillance on Hinckley claim he walked to the movie ticket counter but then proceeded to a Barnes & Noble where he read books about President Reagan and presidential assassinations.
Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of President Reagan and has been treated at St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital.
“The risk of danger is decidedly low,” said Barry Levine, an attorney for Hinckley. “We must look at the legal standing between mental illness and danger.”
Levine said that Hinckley’s psychotic and narcissistic disorder has been remission for years and that there has not been a single instance of violence on any of his previous releases.
“The evidence shows this man is not dangerous.” Levine told Judge Friedman.
Prosecutors called Hinckley’s release a “gamble” and noted his deceptive behavior by lying to his doctors and caretakers about going to the movies on two occasions.
In a court filing earlier this year prosecutors noted, “Hinckley continues to be deceptive regarding his relationships with and interest in women. In June 2009, Hinckley searched the Internet for photographs of his female dentist. When he was caught, Hinckley claimed, falsely, that the dentist had invited him to view her personal photographs.”
Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster. Chasson read a diary entry from Hinckley from the early 1980s where he wrote about his doctors, “They will never know the true John Hinckley.”
Levine told the judge this statement was made before his mental illness was in remission.
“The government incites public anger and public fear,” Levine argued before the Judge.
The hearings are expected to last up to five days with numerous mental health experts and U.S. Secret Service agents testifying.