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Federal judge grants more freedom to Hinckley, Reagan’s would-be assassin

A federal judge yesterday gave Ronald Reagan’s would-be assassin modestly more freedom, allowing the 58-year-old who has lived and received mental health treatment for more than three decades at St. Elizabeths Hospital to spend 17 days a month visiting his mother’s hometown of Williamsburg, Va.

John Hinckley, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in Reagan’s shooting, must prove to federal district Judge Paul Friedman that he can integrate and socialize better in Williamsburg before his release will go any further. But in a 106-page opinion expanding Hinckley’s monthly Virginia visits from 10 to 17 days, Friedman wrote he was persuaded that Hinckley “will not be a danger to himself or to others” given more time away from the hospital.

“Indeed, being in Williamsburg on a set of regularly scheduled visits of longer duration might well provide new opportunities for employment and structured community activities than are presently available to him because of his sporadic presence there,” Friedman wrote.

The opinion resolves the latest round of legal wrangling over what to do with Hinckley, though it hardly brings the case to a close. Hinckley’s doctors and therapists had asked Friedman to gradually expand the length of Hinckley’s trips to his mother’s home in Williamsburg to up to 24 days, and eventually allow him to reside there full time.

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