John W. Hinckley Jr., accused of attempting to assassinate President Reagan, will not claim at his trial that he was aiming at a limousine instead of Reagan, a defense lawyer said yesterday.
Last week prosecutors disclosed that Hinckley once said he was not aiming at Reagan during the March 30, 1980, incident in which the president, his press secretary, a Secret Service agent and a D.C. police officer were injured.
During a hearing yesterday before Judge Barrington Parker, defense lawyer Vincent J. Fuller bitterly protested that disclosure. He said the statement could only have been made by Hinckley to a government psychiatrist who examined him and that its release violated Hinckley's constitutional right against self-incrimination.
"We will not and have no intention of making an argument that Mr. Hinckley had no specific intent to commit a crime because he was shooting at an automobile," Fuller said.
It was also revealed in court yesterday that, at Parker's direction, the prosecution has edited portions of television videotape of the shooting incident which the government wants to show to the jury at Hinckley's trial, scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Hinckley's defense lawyers have said in court papers that they wanted all videotapes, which include graphic pictures of the injured victims, excluded from the trial, because they would "inflame the passions of the jury." The prosecution had countered that Hinckley was trying to "avoid the truth" about the shooting and said the tapes were the "best evidence" of how the crime was committed.
Hinckley has acknowledged firing the shots, but has claimed that he was insane at the time and therefore should not be held criminally responsible for his actions.
During yesterday's hearing, Parker disclosed that the defense has challenged the use at Hinckley's trial of testimony by government psychiatric experts who have read statements made by Hinckley to FBI agents after his arrest. The court has said those statements were obtained illegally and thus cannot be introduced as evidence.
If that challenge were successful, it could have a severe impact on the government's ability to present psychiatric evidence challenging Hinckley's insanity plea. Parker has scheduled a hearing on the issue for Monday.
Parker's decision about which portions of the videotapes of the shooting to eliminate was made during a closed hearing in his chambers earlier this week. He did not formally rule yesterday on the question of admitting the tapes into evidence during Hinckley's trial, but directed one of the defense lawyers to view the government's edited version.
The defense lawyers, arguing that the only issue at trial will be Hinckley's mental state, have repeatedly tried to persuade Parker to restrict the government's presentation of factual evidence about the crime.
Government prosecutors Roger M. Adelman, Robert R. Chapman and Marc B. Tucker have contended that the factual evidence is "an essential ingredient" of its argument that Hinckley intended to commit the crime and that he had the mental capacity to understand that his actions were wrong.
The government must prove those two factors--intent and criminal responsibility--in order to defeat Hinckley's insanity defense.
At yesterday's hearing, Parker told Fuller the government "can't be lukewarm" about the evidence related to what the judge described as the prosecution's "twin burden" of showing both intent and responsibility.
Defense lawyer Fuller also quarreled with the prosecution's plan to use blown up photographs of targets confiscated from a Denver firing range, where Hinckley had practiced with two pistols, and large photos of the so-called "devastator" bullets. Hinckley used devastator bullets, which explode on impact, in the Reagan shooting.
The photographs which the prosecution plans to use have not been released, but Fuller told Parker in court yesterday that in one of them "it would appear the man Hinckley had a five-inch cannon he was discharging at the Hilton Hotel."
Fuller said he wants to avoid having the jury so "prejudiced and exercised" against Hinckley as a result of the government's factual evidence that they lose sight of what he called the main question in the case: "Was Mr. Hinckley of sound mind on March 30, 1981?"
Parker, however said he thought Hinckley's choice of the devastator bullets "may be a significant piece of information." Parker said he would examine a sample of the government's photographs in his chambers to decide what should be shown to the jury.
In another development at yesterday's hearing, Parker said he will postpone until later in the trial his decision on a defense request that the jury be shown the film "Taxi Driver." In the film a deranged taxi-driver, trying to impress a young prostitute played by actress Jodie Foster, shoots a presidential candidate. Law enforcement officials believe Hinckley was trying to impress Foster when he shot at Reagan.