Man who shot Reagan ‘ready’ for life outside mental hospital: Psychiatrist

John Hinckley, 59, who attempted to kill Reagan in 1981, was committed to St Elizabeth’s mental hospital in the US capital.

By (AFP)

Published: Mon 27 Apr 2015, 12:11 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:40 PM

Washington — Staff treating the man who shot US president Ronald Reagan testified on Friday that he was “ready” for life outside the mental hospital and is so extensively trailed by the Secret Service that the government can know where he is anytime.

John Hinckley, 59, who attempted to kill Reagan in 1981, was committed to St Elizabeth’s mental hospital in the US capital but already spends around half the month at his mother’s house in southeast Virginia.

On March 30, 1981, Hinckley shot Reagan, his Press aide Jim Brady and two others outside a Washington hotel, in an effort to impress Hollywood actress Jodie Foster, whom he said he was obsessed with.

St Elizabeth’s, which says Hinckley is ready to leave the facility, is embroiled in a debate with the government about what that release would look like. Staff testified at a federal hearing on Friday in Washington. “This is not a hearing for him to be out without conditions,” Hinckley’s lawyer Michelle Tupper Butler said.

In opening remarks on Wednesday the US government insisted that Hinckley’s behaviour — including “stalking”, writing letters to serial killers, and “violations of his itinerary” — continued to raise red flags that should dissuade federal judge Paul Friedman from relaxing restrictions on his movements.

Hinckley was the subject of Secret Service surveillance some 120 times in 2013 — nearly every day he was out on release — and around 90 times in 2014, his lawyers said.

“I think the government can know where Hinckley is anytime they want, yes,” psychiatrist Deborah Giorgi-Guarnieri said.

Lawyers prodded those testifying on Friday about the effectiveness of ankle bracelets, GPS phones and whether the Hinckley family finances were sufficient to care for him.

Hinckley, who kept his eyes lowered and on the video screen at his table for most of the day’s hearing, wore black slacks, a gray jacket and a white button-down shirt.

“It was my opinion he was ready for convalescent leave and would not present a danger,” Giorgi-Guarnieri said.

The category of leave is intended as a transition period during which conditions are still imposed on a patient. AFP


More news from WORLD