U.S. News

Psychologist may examine if Reagan shooter deserves complete freedom

FILE PHOTO: John Hinckley Jr. arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. November 19, 2003. REUTERS/Brendan Smialowski/File Photo

A federal judge on Friday authorized a psychologist chosen by the U.S. government to examine John Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan in a 1981 assassination attempt, in order to determine whether he deserves unconditional freedom.

Hinckley, 63, has been living with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, with many restrictions on his travel and contact with the outside world, since his September 2016 release from a Washington, D.C., psychiatric hospital.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman said the psychologist, Mitchell Hugonnet, may examine Hinckley to determine his “present mental condition and risk of dangerousness” if he were released unconditionally or subject to new conditions.

Hinckley had orally asked on April 30 for his unconditional release. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Dec. 10.

Hugonnet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity at a 1982 jury trial. That verdict prompted Congress and some U.S. states to adopt laws limiting use of the insanity defense.

Reagan suffered a punctured lung in the assassination attempt but recovered quickly.

Others wounded included White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Washington police officer.

The case is U.S. v. Hinckley, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 81-cr-00306.