By Spencer S. Hsu,
A U.S. judge will grant the unconditional release of John W. Hinckley Jr. effective in June 2022, 41 years after he shot President Ronald Reagan and three others outside a D.C. hotel, the judge said at a court hearing Monday morning.
The court acted after the Justice Department agreed to end court supervision of Hinkley, who was freed from a government psychiatric hospital and granted conditional release to live in Williamsburg, Va., in 2016.
U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman said he will officially approve the terms in writing later this week. The unconditional release terms includes a final nine-month period of observation required by prosecutors and a government medical expert, but requires no further court action.
“At this point the ball is in Mr. Hinckley’s hands. The government agrees if the continues to do what he is doing between now and June 2020, he would be granted his unconditional release,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kacie Weston said.
The development Monday is the latest for one of the nation’s most notorious mental health patients.
Outrage over Hinckley’s acquittal in the March 30, 1981 shooting reshaped the insanity defense in courts across the country. The revelation that he had pulled the trigger to impress movie star Jodie Foster added obsession and celebrity to the case. And extraordinary television footage of the attack on the 40th U.S. president brought the event to millions of American homes.
Hinckley, 66, has been granted conditional release since 2016 to his mother’s home in Williamsburg, Va., after Hinckley’s doctors and the court found he no longer poses a danger to himself or others. Hinkley’s mother, Jo Ann Hinckley, 95, who became an advocate for mental health research and education, died July 30.
“Mr. Hinckley wants to express apologies. His apologies are heartfelt and ones of profound regret,” Levine said.
“He apologizes to the Reagan family. The president was a man of generous spirit and magnamity. He apologizes tohte family of Jim and Sarah Brady, whose lives were altered by what he did. He apologizes to the families of Secret Service Special Agent Tim McCarthy and Metropolitan Police Department Officer Thomas Delahanty. He apologizes to Ms. Foster.
“And he apologizes to the American people. Perhaps, perhaps it is too much to ask for forgiveness, but we hope to have an understanding that the acts that caused him to do this terrible thing were the product of mental illness,” Levine said.