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WASHINGTON — The man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan will be allowed to leave a Washington mental hospital and live full-time in Virginia, a judge has ruled.
John Hinckley Jr. is ready to live in the community, Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled Wednesday, granting him full time convalescent leave that shall begin no sooner than Aug. 5. Friedman’s ruling comes more than 35 years after the March 30, 1981, shooting outside a Washington hotel in which Reagan and three others were injured.
Doctors have said for many years that the now 61-year-old Hinckley, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting, is no longer plagued by the mental illness that drove him to shoot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster.
While outside the hospital, Hinckley has had to comply with a series of restrictions, and a number of those will continue now that he will be living full time in the community. He will have to attend individual and group therapy sessions and is barred from talking to the media. He can drive, but there are restrictions on how far he can travel. The Secret Service also periodically follows him.
President Ronald Reagan's daughter Patti Davis said she has forgiven her dad's would-be assassin, but thinks he should remain locked up.
"When my father was lying in a hospital bed recovering from the gunshots that nearly killed him, he said, 'I know my ability to heal depends on my willingness to forgive John Hinckley'," she wrote at length on her web site. "I too believe in forgiveness. But forgiving someone in your heart doesn't mean that you let them loose in Virginia to pursue whatever dark agendas they may still hold dear."