Published November 30, 2011
Government lawyers told a federal judge Wednesday that the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 went to a bookstore recently where he perused books on Reagan and people who've tried to assassinate presidents.
Prosecutors who want to ensure that John Hinckley Jr., is not released from a mental hospital told the court that Hinckley is deceptive and unstable. They said Secret Service agents who tracked Hinckley during a visit to his mom's home followed Hinckley when he was supposed to be seeing a movie. Instead, he went to a bookstore across from the theater.
Hinckley "has a long history of deception," they said, and "does whatever he wants and thinks he can get away with it."
The lawyers are in court to review Hinckley's case. Hospital officials want Hinckley to be allowed extended visits outside the mental facility -- and eventually be released to live with or near his mother in Williamsburg, Va.
Court filings from St. Elizabeth's hospital are private, but Hinckley's doctors and his attorney have publicly pushed many times for more freedom for the failed assassin.
Most recently, they were able to secure for Hinckely a number of 10-day visits with his 85-year-old mom. Now, hospital officials want to increase his departures from the institution to 17- to 24-days at a time.
Hospital administrators say if those visits go well, they -- not the court -- should be allowed to decide whether Hinckley can be released to go live with his mother permanently.
"In excess of two decades," Hinckley has not had "a single incident of violence," Hinckley attorney Barry Levine argued in court.
In his court filing last month, Levine said, "There is no evidence of him being dangerous, not a little bit, not marginal evidence." He added that claims to the contrary are "shameful fear-mongering without any factual basis."
But the government argues Hinckley -- who tried to kill President Reagan in a show of affection for actress Jodie Foster and severely wounded Reagan's press secretary, James Brady, who afterward dedicated his life to gun control -- is still dangerous. Prosecutors say efforts to obtain his eventual release are "premature and ill conceived."
Hinckley is still "a man capable of great violence" and his mental condition has not improved, prosecutors argued. In an earlier court filing, they noted specifically his thoughts about women.
Hinckley "continues to be deceptive regarding his relationships and interest in women," reads the prosecutors' court filing. It adds, Hinckley is "still not sufficiently well to alleviate the concern that this violence may be repeated."
Friedman, the same federal judge who allowed Hinckley more visits in 2009, is hearing the arguments that may last more than a week. He can then take his time deciding on a ruling.
Fox News' Molly Henneberg contributed to this report.