November 30th, 2011
02:39 AM ET

Reagan shooter Hinckley to seek freedom at hearing

On the day he shot President Ronald Reagan, 25-year-old John Hinckley Jr. left in his hotel room a letter addressed to young actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was infatuated. The letter began:

"Dear Jodie. There is a definite possibility I will be killed in my attempt to get Reagan."

But on March 30, 1981, Hinckley survived. His gun empty after he fired six shots at the president in less than two seconds, Hinckley was tackled by police and Secret Service agents. He was rushed away and all but disappeared into custody for the past three decades.

On Wednesday, a federal judge will begin a week and half of hearings on whether Hinckley eventually should be released from the mental hospital where he has been a patient since his 1982 trial ended in a jury verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Doctors at St. Elizabeth Hospital, a federal mental facility in Washington, have petitioned the court for approval to grant Hinckley convalescent leave if all goes well in series of extended visits to his mother's home.

Hinckley is now 56, his hair turning gray. In the last court hearing two years ago, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman acknowledged hospital doctors' testimony that his mental problems were in remission.

The court has steadily granted Hinckley greater freedoms over the years.

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • U.S.