WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorneys for the man who shot President Ronald Reagan will be asking a judge to let him spend more time away from a Washington mental hospital with the goal of eventually allowing him to live outside the facility full-time.
John Hinckley, who was found by a jury to be insane when he shot and wounded Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981, has for years been able to spend days at his mother's home in Virginia. On Wednesday, a Washington judge was to begin hearing arguments that Hinckley should be allowed additional visits of 17 and 24 days. The city's St. Elizabeths Hospital also wants the ability to decide if Hinckley should live away from the facility full-time according to a court document.
Government lawyers oppose the plan, calling it "premature and ill conceived." They say Hinckley is "a man capable of great violence" and that he is not "sufficiently well to alleviate the concern that this violence may be repeated."
But Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, has said there is no evidence Hinckley is a danger to himself or to others. Earlier this year, he called the government's court filing opposing expanded privileges "shameful fear-mongering without any factual basis."
The hearing before Judge Paul L. Friedman is expected to take several days. The witness lists include Hinckley's sister and brother as well as his psychiatrist and case manager. Members of the U.S. Secret Service are expected to testify for the government, which has suggested that the plan for expanded release would not give Secret Service agents an adequate ability to monitor Hinckley at certain times.
Reagan eventually recovered from the shooting and went on to serve two terms as president. A secret service agent and police officer who were shot also recovered from their wounds. Reagan's press secretary, James Brady, was shot in the head and permanently disabled. He has since become an advocate for preventing gun violence. Reagan died in 2004 at the age of 93.