WASHINGTON – A forensic psychiatrist who examined John Hinckley Jr. (search) this year said Tuesday the man who shot President Reagan should not be allowed to visit his parents without supervision, countering testimony by Hinckley's mother and his former psychiatrist that he is ready for more freedom.
Robert Phillips, the first witness to testify for the government, said Hinckley still suffers from the same narcissistic personality disorder (search) that drove him to shoot Reagan and three others outside a Washington hotel in March 1981.
Hinckley has asked U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman to let him leave Washington's St. Elizabeths Hospital (search) unescorted and visit his parents at their home in Virginia. Five of the 10 proposed trips would entail overnight stays.
Reagan's family and the government oppose the idea.
On the second day of the three-day hearing, Phillips said Hinckley still shows troubling signs of not being totally honest or forthright with his treating physicians and "a tendency to hide the ball, so to speak."
Phillips said he was concerned that Hinckley had not changed enough since he sought similar privileges three years ago. In 2000, U.S. District Judge June L. Green canceled a hearing after prosecutors said Hinckley had a continued interest in books and music with violent themes.
"Those behaviors are indicative of intrinsically poor judgment, possibly a reaffirmation of narcissistic tendencies that are present," Phillips said.
Hinckley, 48, has lived at the hospital since a jury found him innocent by reason of insanity in 1982, when he said he shot the president to impress actress Jodie Foster.
Lawyers for Hinckley wrapped up their case after putting Hinckley's mother on the stand earlier Tuesday. She said she believes her son is no longer mentally ill and poses no threat to anyone.
"I believe he has recovered," Jo Ann Hinckley said. "There is no issue of dangerousness in John at all."
Jo Ann Hinckley said she and her husband planned to take their son to shopping malls, restaurants and bookstores as they had on previous outings when Hinckley was supervised. In case of problems, she said, she would carry a cell phone and a list of emergency numbers to call, including hospital staff and police, if necessary.
Government lawyer Thomas Zeno questioned whether Hinckley's parents were prepared to deal with a situation in which Hinckley might try to run away or was confronted by someone hostile.
"If he becomes upset, I think we'd just take him back to the hospital," she said.
Hinckley's former psychiatrist, Robert Keisling, testified Tuesday that Hinckley hasn't shown "any evidence of psychosis in the last 16 years" and should be allowed to visit his parents without supervision.
Under a 1999 federal appeals court ruling, Hinckley has been able to take supervised day trips off hospital grounds. Now he wants to travel unescorted to his parents' home in Williamsburg, Va., some three hours away.
Hinckley was at the hearing and sat quietly with his lawyers as witnesses testified.
Also supporting Hinckley's bid for unsupervised visits was Robert Keisling, who treated Hinckley at St. Elizabeths in 1998 and 1999. He said Hinckley's violent acts occurred only when he was in a psychotic episode, which hasn't occurred in 16 years.
Binks said Hinckley regularly feeds stray cats on St. Elizabeths grounds and reads books about cats, as well as magazines and newspapers. He has stopped reading most other books out of fear they would be perceived as having violent themes, Binks said.