Federal judge grants would-be Reagan assassin expanded leave from D.C. hospital


John Hinckley Jr. in November 2003. (Evan Vucci/AP) (Evan Vucci/AP)

Starting in March, President Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin could spend as long as 17 days each month living with his mother in Virginia and away from a D.C. psychiatric hospital, a federal judge has decided.

The order by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman establishes guidelines for John W. Hinckley Jr.’s visits to Williamsburg, which had been limited to 10 days a month. It is part of a gradual expansion of Hinckley’s freedoms that his lawyer hopes will eventually lead to a permanent relocation from St. Elizabeths Hospital, where he has been since the attempt on Reagan's life in 1981.

Friedman’s order says the expanded visits are to help Hinckley acclimate to his mother’s community and to do more volunteer work at a local hospital. He also will be permitted to drive unaccompanied in Williamsburg as long as he’s going to treatment, work or pre-approved social activities. The judge said St. Elizabeths will closely monitor itineraries and the rules could be changed.

The judge had issued his opinion granting expanded visits in December; this week’s order clarifies some remaining issues and sets specific parameters.

“It’s transformative,” said Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Wm. Levine. “Now, most of his life will be in Williamsburg.”

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