Would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr.’s sister testified Tuesday morning that she doesn’t think her brother is dangerous and could safely live full-time in Williamsburg with her mother.
Diane Sims said she has spent about 10 long weekends with her brother when he is visiting his mother on 10-day stretches since 2008 and that she has noticed no problems.
“He doesn’t bother anybody,” she said.
Sims testified during hearings in federal court that will help determine whether Hinckley can obtain more freedom from St. Elizabeths Hospital, where he has been held since being found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 of shooting President Ronald Reagan and three other men.
Hinckley nearly killed Reagan and his press secretary, James Brady, in the shooting outside the Washington Hilton hotel on March 30, 1981.
St. Elizabeths has asked U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman to expand Hinckley’s 10-day visits to Williamsburg to as many as 24 days at a time. If those trips go well, the hospital would like the authority to place him there as a full-time outpatient.
On the trips Sims has participated in, Hinckley’s sister said she and her brother often go on walks, visit museums, dine out at restaurants and shop for music and books about art. (Hinckley is a painter). While at his mother’s house, Hinckley sweeps the walk and does the dishes, Sims said, and does his own laundry.
When they talk, they chat about her family and his work and volunteer activities, Sims said. They rarely discuss politics, she said, and have never spoken about violence or assassinations.
The visits to Williamsburg “have been very good for him,” Sims said. “He is relaxed when he is there at home and he enjoys spending time with his mother, brother and me.”
During the hearings, which started Wednesday, testimony has often delved into what happens when Hinckley’s 85-year-old mother is no longer to care for him. Lawyers describe this using the euphemism of Mrs. Hinckley “becoming unavailable.”
With Jo Ann Hinckley in the courtroom gallery on Tuesday, one of Hinckley’s attorney, Ann-Marie Luciano, used the euphemism to ask about Mrs. Hinckley’s potential death or incapacitation. Sims answered that her brother should still live in Williamsburg, perhaps living in an apartment or condo.
His sister added that she felt that her hometown of Dallas was probably not an appropriate for Hinckley to reside because it’s too far from St. Elizabeths and and he trusts his Williamsburg-based treatment team.
Others might object to Hinckley living in Dallas, she said, because President John F. Kennedy was slain nearly 50 years ago and Sims’ family lives just 10 minutes from former President George W. Bush.