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Federal Judge Springs Would-Be Reagan Assassin From Mental Hospital

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent

A federal judge has released John Hinckley Jr., the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in March, 1981, from a federal psychiatric facility to the care of his family.

The ruling from D.C. District Court Judge Paul Friedman, a Clinton-appointee, reflected the consensus of medical officials, government lawyers, an independent expert, and Hinckley’s family, who will have to comply with a variety of court-imposed conditions.

Hinckley, 61, will live with his mother in a lavish gated community near Williamsburg, Va., adjacent to the 13th hole of a PGA championship golf course. He was confined to St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital in Southeast Washington, D.C. from 1982 until 2006, when the District court began to gradually relax the terms of his detention. He has spent 17 days per month living in the ritzy compound since 2014, without incident. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Failed Reagan Assassin Secretly Lives In Lap Of Luxury, And Nobody Seems To Know)

His release is contingent upon continued treatment from a team of therapists based in Williamsburg, as well as ongoing evaluations by officials at St. Elizabeth’s. The hospital will also conduct a comprehensive risk assessment 18 months to determine what further action, if any, may be necessary. His travel beyond Williamsburg will also be restricted, and he will carry a GPS-enabled cell phone for the first year of his convalescent release.

At age 25, Hinckley shot Reagan, White House press secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and Metropolitan Police Officer Thomas Delahanty in a bid to win the affection of actress Jodie Foster, with whom the young Hinckley had become irrationally obsessed. Hinckley’s lawyers staged a successful insanity defense at trial, drawing on the diagnoses of numerous mental health practitioners who said the would-be assassin was a text book psychotic with violent and suicidal ideation. He was confined to St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital, where he attempted to end his own life on many occasions throughout the 1980s.

In the intervening years, officials at St. Elizabeth’s say he has displayed no symptoms of active mental illness and contend he has been in full remission for at least 20 years.

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