Hearings that will help determine whether would-be assassin John W. Hinckley Jr gets more freedom from his psychiatric hospital have been put on hold until late January, according to a court order made public Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, who has already presided over five recent days of court proceedings related to Hinckley, issued an order saying the hearings would continue on Jan. 23.
The judge is weighing a request by doctors at St. Elizabeths Hospital to grant Hinckley more liberty. In recent years, Hinckley has steadily gained freedom from the hospital; doctors would like to extend his visits to his mother’s home in Williamsburg and to have the authority to place him there full-time as an outpatient.
Federal prosecutors are fighting the proposal, saying Hinckley remains too dangerous and deceptive for such privileges.
Hinckley has been held at St. Elizabeths since being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting of President Ronald Reagan and three other men outside the Washington Hilton hotel. Reagan was nearly killed in the gunfire, and White House Press Secretary James Brady was permanently disabled.
The most recent court proceedings started on Nov. 30 and were supposed to end last week. But Friedman and lawyers apparently ran into scheduling glitches that prompted the Tuesday’s delay.
Hinckley’s lawyers have finished presenting their witnesses, whom included doctors, therapists and the presidential assailant’s siblings. Prosecutors are up next and are expected for the first time to call Secret Service agents to testify about their surveillance of Hinckley on his 10-day visits to Williamsburg.