Attorney: Reagan Shooter Hinckley Not Dangerous

Published February 9, 2012 6:00PM (EST)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A defense attorney for the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan said Thursday that his client has shown he is not dangerous and should be allowed to spend more time outside a Washington mental hospital.

John Hinckley, who shot and wounded Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981, has spent most of the past three decades at the mental hospital. But in recent years he has been allowed to spend up to 10 days at a time away from the hospital at his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va. He now wants a judge to grant him get visits of 17 and 24 days and ultimately be away from the hospital full time.

"Not once during any one of these releases has Mr. Hinckley done anything violent or dangerous," his attorney Barry William Levine said at the conclusion of nearly two weeks of testimony.

Hinckley was found by a jury to be insane at the time he shot Reagan. Doctors say his mental illness has been in remission for years, however, and a judge has granted Hinckley increasing freedom from the hospital.

Government lawyers are opposing Hinckley's request and say his visits should continue to be limited to 10 days. A government prosecutor, Nihar Mohanty, said in his closing argument that Hinckley has made progress. But Mohanty asked the judge to wait until Hinckley is accepted into treatment at an outpatient mental health facility near his mother's home before increasing the visits to 17 days.

The judge hearing the case, U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman, told attorneys not to expect his decision until April or May. Hinckley's 10-day visits will continue during that time.

By Salon Staff

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