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John W. Hinckley Jr., would-be Reagan assassin, seeks ‘unconditional release,’ citing mother’s health

John Hinckley arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington in 2003. (Evan Vucci/AP)

An attorney for John W. Hinckley Jr., who wounded President Ronald Reagan and several others during an assassination attempt 40 years ago, is seeking on behalf of his client an “unconditional release” from court supervision.

The request, made Thursday in a filing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, cites the poor health of Hinckley’s elderly mother and notes that Hinckley has suffered no relapses of mental illness since he was released from a government psychiatric hospital in 2016.

“It is our hope that an order for Mr. Hinckley’s unconditional release might be entered while Mrs. Hinckley can appreciate it,” wrote Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Wm. Levine, asking that the court set a hearing, if one is necessary, to consider such a release.

Since leaving St. Elizabeths Hospital in D.C., Hinckley has been granted progressively greater freedoms.

In 2018, a judge noted that there had been “no problems” with Hinckley’s conduct and allowed him to look into moving out of his mother’s house in Williamsburg, Va. The frequency of required court appearances and visits with his treatment team was also reduced.

Under the terms of his “convalescent leave,” he was still obligated to work or volunteer three days per week, carry a traceable phone and provide information about vehicles he was driving. His access to social media and the Internet were also restricted and subject to inspection, and he was barred from having weapons and consuming alcohol or illegal drugs.

Hinckley was 25 when he shot Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady, U.S. Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy and D.C. police officer Thomas Delahanty with six exploding “Devastator” bullets from a .22-caliber pistol. A federal jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982.

Starting with supervised trips with family in the 1990s, he slowly returned to society under the watch of D.C. mental health authorities and court officials. In the fall of 2016, he was allowed to move into his mother’s home in a gated golf-course development.