WASHINGTON – The man who tried to kill President Reagan no longer poses a danger and should be allowed unsupervised visits with his parents, his lawyer argued Thursday.
In closing arguments, lawyer Barry W. Levine said psychiatrists testifying for John Hinckley Jr. (search), and for the government all supported such visits away from the grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital.
"The government has offered no evidence that contradicts the unanimous opinion in this case." Levine said.
But government lawyer Robert Chapman said Hinckley was still dangerous and should not be allowed to leave the hospital grounds without staff members, as has been the case since 1999.
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman has said he would rule early this month. Levine asked him Thursday to decide as quickly as possible so the Hinckleys could spend Christmas together.
Also opposing Hinckley's request are Reagan's children, Patti Davis and Ron Reagan Jr., and Sarah Brady, wife of Reagan press secretary James Brady (search), who was shot in the head during the attempt to assassinate the president.
Chapman, the government lawyer, said the psychiatrists' evaluations did not take into account that Hinckley still posed a threat to the public.
"Clearly they are trying to help their patient," Chapman said. "But their views cannot control the court's duty to protect the community."
At Friedman's request, a psychiatrist for St. Elizabeths testified last week, adding his voice to those supporting unsupervised visits. Dr. Paul Montalbano, a senior forensic psychiatrist, said such trips could aid in Hinckley's treatment.
The hospital proposed new guidelines requiring Hinckley's parents to stay with their son at all times, call the hospital periodically to check in with doctors, make sure he takes his medication and stays away from weapons, and not contact or talk to the media.
Hinckley, 48, has been a patient at St. Elizabeths since he was acquitted in 1982 by reason of insanity in the shootings of Reagan, Brady and two law enforcement officers outside a Washington hotel in March 1981. Reagan nearly died. Hinckley said he shot the president to impress actress Jodie Foster (search).