John Hinckley Jr., 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 ruled today, the Associated Press reports. Hinckley is ready to live in the community, said Judge Paul Friedman, granting him full convalescent leave that shall begin no sooner than Aug. 5. The ruling comes more than 35 years after the March 30, 1981, shooting outside a Washington, D.C., 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, no longer is plagued by the mental illness that drove him to shoot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley’s release from St. Elizabeths hospital has been more than a decade in the making. In 2003, the judge allowed Hinckley to begin leaving the hospital for day visits with his parents in the Washington area. In 2006, Hinckley began visiting his parents’ home in Williamsburg, Virginia, for three-night stretches. That time has increased so that for more than the last year he has been allowed to spend 17 days a month at the home, which is in a gated community and overlooks a golf course. Reagan died in 2004 at 93.