Man who tried to kill Ronald Reagan gets 'unconditional release'

John Hinckley Jr – who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981 – wins ‘unconditional release’ from ALL court-imposed restrictions

  • Hinckley shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan in 1981 
  • The would-be assassin’s lawyers convened in court Monday to argue that he should not be held to series of court-imposed restrictions put in place in 2016 
  • The court ruled in favor of Hinckley, calling for his ‘unconditional release’ – meaning he will eventually be a free man, if he continues to follow those rules
  • ‘There is no evidence of danger whatsoever,’ says Hinckley’s attorney Barry Levine, referring to his client – who was once obsessed with actress Jodie Foster
  • He will no longer be barred from contacting Reagan´s kids or other victims of the 1981 shooting and their families – and will be able to legally own a gun 
  • Hinckley was previously released from a 35-year stint in a Washington mental hospital in 2016, and was declared ‘mentally stable’ 
  • His lawyers attested last month in court that the middle-aged former madman is ‘no longer a threat’ 
  • Hinckley – who has created a YouTube channel where he posts both covers and original songs – currently lives in a gated community Williamsburg, Virginia 

John Hinckley Jr, who tried to kill then-President Ronald Reagan in a bid to impress actress Jodie Foster 40 years ago, can receive an ‘unconditional release’ from his remaining court-monitored supervision five years after being freed from a mental hospital, a judge ruled Monday. 

Attorneys for John Hinckley Jr. argued that the 66-year-old would-be assassin is ‘no longer a threat’, and that he should not be held to a series of court-imposed restrictions that were put in place after he was released from a 35-year stint in a Washington mental hospital in 2016.

Hinckley was allowed to move to a gated community in Virginia with his mother – who has since passed away – while adhering to a series of stipulations set in place by the court and being subjected to constant supervision by doctors and therapists.

However, an agreement was reached Monday in a Washington, DC, court for Hinckley’s ‘unconditional release’ – meaning all of the previous restrictions on Hinckley’s freedoms can eventually be lifted, making him, effectively, a free man.  

Doctors and therapists would no longer need to monitor Hinckley – who was deemed mentally stable in 2016 after attempting to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981

Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine, speaks with reporters outside the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, Monday, after a hearing in which a judge ruled that his client – who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan four decades ago – can be freed from all his previous restrictions

Would-be assassin Hinckley will now legally be able to own a gun, after the agreement reached by his attorneys in Washington district court

Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, foreground, Washington policeman Thomas K. Delehanty, center, and presidential press secretary James Brady, background, lie wounded outside Washington’s Hilton Hotel after shots were fired by Hinckley at then-President Reagan

Reagan’s security detail rushed to protect the president after Hinckley unleashed a volley of six shots into the crowd outside the Washington hotel

Previously, Hinckley could not legally own a gun, or use alcohol or drugs.

He was also legally barred from reaching out to Reagan´s children, or other victims of the heinous 1981 attack, or their families – as well actress Jodie Foster, who Hinckley was then obsessed with, crediting the assassination attempt as a bid to gain the ‘Taxi Driver’ star’s affection.

Hinckley’s attorneys argued at the Monday morning hearing that their client had been ‘ravaged by mental illness at the time,’ and that he has since received ‘world class mental health treatment’ and benefitted from a support system set in place by family and health professionals. 

‘There is no evidence of danger whatsoever,’ Hinckley’s attorney, Barry Levine, asserted, adding that Hinckley has been given an ‘excellent’ prognosis by his doctors and therapists. 

Senior U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman eventually ruled that Hinckley will be freed from all the remaining restrictions he currently faces next year in a mere nine months – if he continues to follow the stipulations that have been set in place since his 2016 release, and remains mentally stable. 

After the ruling, it is more than likely that Hinckley will soon go about his life as any normal citizen would – and as if the assassination attempt never happened.  

Hinckley botched his attempt to assassinate then-President Reagan on March 20, 1981, after unleashing a volley of six bullets at Reagan and several others outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The attack left the newly elected head of state severely injured, with three of the president’s entourage and security detail wounded as well. 

Then-President Reagan was wounded in the attack, with a bullet piercing the head of state’s lung and getting lodged near his heart

Hinckley was apprehended and arrested at the scene.

Twenty-five years old and acting alone, Hinckley was declared ‘not guilty’ in the attempt and ruled to be suffering from acute psychosis – with the attack being a misguided bid by the man to gain the affection of actress Jodie Foster, whom he was obsessed with at the time. 

Instead of serving jail-time, Hinckley was sent to St. Elizabeths hospital to receive treatment – where he spent the next 35 years.

In 2016, however, a judge ruled that Hinckley was successfully rehabilitated and had become mentally stable, and was allowed to move out of the mental hospital and in with his mother in a gated-community home in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Hinckley’s mother, Jo Ann Hinckley, passed away last month at 95 years old.

Hinckley is now considered legally and mentally stable – and no longer bound by a series restrictions put in place on him after his 2016 release.

Levine argued in court last month that his client should no longer be subjected to these limitations, on the basis that his client no longer poses a threat. 

Secret Service agents and bystanders attend to those who were injured in the 1981 assassination attempt by Hinckley

Friedman upheld this sentiment in court with his ruling – which will stand as Hinckley continues to follow the rules and he has been abiding to for the past five years.

In 2020, a ‘violence risk assessment’ conducted on behalf of Washington’s Department of Behavioral Health ruled that Hinckley would not pose a danger to himself or others if unconditionally released. 

The U.S. government, however, opposed ending these restrictions in May, and enlisted an expert to determine whether or not Hinckley would pose a threat to the public if these restrictions were to be revoked. 

The shooting paralyzed Reagan press secretary James Brady, who died in 2014. It also injured Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty – who each took a bullet for the president, likely saving his life. 

The then-president was also wounded in the attack, with a bullet piercing the head of state’s lung, and ending up lodged near his heart 

The decision on Hinckley comes a month after the man who assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Palestinian refugee Sirhan Sirhan, was recommended for parole by a California review board after being denied 15 previous times.

The heinous act was a desperate and misguided bid by Hinckley to ‘impress’ actress Jodie Foster

The 77-year-old’s fate is currently in the hands of almost-recalled California Governor Gavin Newsom, who will decide Monday whether or not to reject the board’s decision to release the prisoner, currently serving a life sentence.

Jurors decided Hinckley was suffering from acute psychosis when he tried to murder Reagan in 1981, and found him not guilty by reason of insanity.

He spent the next 35 years in a Washington asylum. 

He is now considered mentally stable, and has spent the past five years living with his mother, under doctors’ supervision.  

Hinckley is now a keen painter, guitarist and singer, with his own YouTube account, where he posts both covers and his own original songs.   

Last year, he won a ruling to publicly display his artwork and music under his own name after previously being forced to release it anonymously.

Hinckley has told doctors over the years that he regrets not being able to show or sell his paintings, most of which are landscapes, according to previously filed court documents. 

His room is decorated with paintings he has made of houses and cats. 

‘No one can see my art. I have these other aspects of my life that no one knows about. 

‘I’m an artist. I’m a musician. Nobody knows that. They just see me as the guy who tried to kill Reagan.’ 

Entries from Hinckley Jr.’s diary reveal he occasionally ‘regretted’ his 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan, but he felt ‘accomplished and satisfied’ that he tried.

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