Presidential assailant John W. Hinckley should not get more freedom from his psychiatric hospital, because of his pattern of deception, isolation and problematic relationships with women, an expert testified Wednesday.
Psychiatrist Raymond Patterson, a witness for the government, said some of Hinckley’s privileges during trips to visit his mother in Williamsburg should be cut. Hinckley’s family and St. Elizabeths Hospital staff members say his mental health has improved and are asking a federal judge to expand his privileges.
Hinckley, 56, has been a patient at the D.C. mental hospital since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting of President Ronald Reagan and three other men in 1981.
Under a 2009 judicial order, Hinckley is permitted to visit his mother in Williamsburg for 10-day stretches.
Patterson spent much of Wednesday’s hearing detailing Hinckley’s history of jumping between relationships with women and “delusional” assumptions about their interest in him.
Hinckley shot and injured Reagan in 1981 in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed. Patterson said Wednesday that a dental resident at the hospital accused Hinckley of stalking her.
“His judgment just is off,” Patterson said.
Hearings on Hinckley’s mental health started last month, with hospital personnel and family members saying that Hinckley ’s psychotic condition is considered in remission. The hospital wants the court to allow Hinckley visits with his mother for as long as 24 days and eventual permanent discharge as an outpatient living with her in Williamsburg.
Patterson advised against extended release for Hinckley. The presidential assailant gets several blocks of unsupervised time during his Virginia trips. Patterson said those should be curtailed because he cannot be trusted to to speak honestly about how he spends the time.
His testimony followed that of Secret Service agents who said Hinckley went to a bookstore and seemed to fixate on shelves containing titles about presidents and assassinations. He didn’t see a movie he was supposed to see on one of those days and then told hospital staff members he enjoyed it.
“That is what Mr. Hinckley does,” Patterson said. “He tells people things, and you don’t know when he is lying.”
Hinckley has also failed to take advantage of opportunities for socialization during his visits to Virginia, Patterson said. Although he takes walks in his mother’s neighborhood and browses a bookstore, Hinckley has not followed up on suggestions to join a mental health group or go to functions at his mother’s church.
“There is concern that Mr. Hinckley could become isolated and could become more depressed and psychotic,” Patterson testified.
Hinckley’s lawyers will cross-examine Patterson Monday when hearings resume. U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman can issue an opinion at any point after the hearings conclude.