Defense lawyers for John W. Hinckley Jr. plan to show the film "Taxi Driver" at Hinckley's trial on charges that he attempted to assassinate President Reagan, according to court papers filed yesterday.
In the film, a deranged taxi driver attempts to assassinate a presidential candidate to try to impress a teen-age prostitute, played by the actress Jodie Foster. Law enforcement officials believe that Hinckley, who had telephoned Foster and written to her prior to the assassination attempt, shot Reagan to gain her attention.
Hinckley, who saw the movie prior to the assault a year ago, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His trial is scheduled begin in U.S. District Court on April 27.
Foster gave testimony in connection with the case at a closed hearing two weeks ago that was videotaped for possible use at Hinckley's trial. Such testimony customarily is taken in advance of a trial when a witness is expcted to be unavailable when the case begins before the jury.
Hinckley's lawyers also renewed their objection yesterday to the prosecution's plan to repeatedly show the jury videotapes of the assault on Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.
The defense contends that the tapes are "highly inflammatory" and unnecessary to the trial since Hinckley has already admitted that he fired the shots that wounded Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, U.S. Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy and former D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty.
The lawyers contend that the tapes would unfairly prejudice the jury against Hinckley and do not address what they described as "the only real issues" in the case: Hinckley's mental state and intent at the time of the assault.
The defense lawyers also objected to testimony at the trial by victims of the shooting, who did not see Hinckley at the scene and cannot identify him as their assailant. The court papers did not say which victims the government plans to call as witness. It is unclear whether the prosecution has decided to call Reagan as a witness.
"The purpose of this testimony can only be to arouse the jury's sympathies for the victims and unfairly inflame the jury's passions against the defendant. This should not be permitted," the defense said in papers filed with the court yesterday.
The defense said the government plans to show the jury videotapes of the shooting four times, at different speeds, including scenes of Brady and Delahanty lying wounded on the sidewalk outside the hotel, as well as McCarthy being lifted from his feet by the impact of the bullet that struck him.