The question of his mental health is not the only hurdle that John W. Hinckley, Jr. must clear to be able to visit his parents without supervision, the Los Angeles Times reports. As U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman concludes three days of testimony in the case today, the Times says that “the higher bar for Hinckley is the indelible anger of a society that cringes at the thought that a man who tried to kill a president would walk free, even for a day.”
“This case has been a political football for a long time,” Dr. Robert Keisling, a psychiatrist who testified for Hinckley’s release, said yesterday. “If it had been any other person, I don’t think he would have stayed in as long as he’s been in.”
Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity of shooting Ronald Reagan and three others on March 30, 1981, as the president left a hotel after delivering a speech. His press secretary, James Brady, suffered serious brain damage. Hinckley was committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, diagnosed as psychotic and clinically depressed. He was delusional and obsessed with actress Jodie Foster.
After two decades of therapy and antipsychotic drugs, experts agree that he is in “full remission” and has been for years. The odds that Hinckley would relapse during an outing with his parents are “practically zero,” Keisling said.
Prosecutors disagree and describe Hinckley as cunning and deceptive. In 1987, doctors declared Hinckley “completely over his fixation” on Foster. Then 57 photographs of her were found in his room. His mother, Jo Ann Hinckley, promised the court she and her husband would watch their son vigilantly. Asked if she believed her son was mentally ill, she said: “No, I don’t believe he is. Now I think he has recovered.”