A federal judge ruled Wednesday that John Hinckley Jr., who was convicted for the assassination attempt on U.S President Ronald Reagan in 1981, will be released after being held at a mental hospital for 35 years.
Hinckley could be released as early as August 5 and will have to live full-time with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, under certain restrictions. Among other restrictions, he must meet with doctors at St. Elizabeth’s mental hospital every month and attend regular sessions with therapists and psychiatrists
Reaction to the decision was mixed, with Reagan’s son Michael suggesting that Hinckley should be forgiven for his actions. “My father did more than say the Lords Prayer. He lived it in forgiving John Hinkley Jr…Maybe we should do the same,” he said on his Twitter account.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, meanwhile, voiced its opposition to the Hinkley’s release. “John Hinckley is responsible for the shooting of President Reagan and three other brave men. One died two years ago from the wounds he received. Contrary to the judge’s decision, we believe John Hinckley is still a threat to others and we strongly oppose his release,” it said in a statement.
President Reagan, his Press Secretary Jim Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and D.C. Police Department Officer Thomas Delahanty were shot in March 1981 during an assassination attempt in the driveway of the Washington Hilton Hotel. All four initially survived the shooting but Brady, who was gravely wounded by a bullet to the brain, remained partially paralyzed until his death in 2014.
Although the chief medical examiner ruled Brady’s death a homicide, saying it was caused by a gunshot wound he sustained in the 1981 shooting, prosecutors decided not to pursue any additional charges against Hinckley.
Hinckley was apprehended at the scene of the shooting and later charged with three federal and 10 District of Columbia offenses. However, In Hinckley’s 1982 trial a jury returned a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity on all charges.
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