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Reagan shooter wants to change 'assassin' image

The man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan more than 30 years ago said he would like to be known as something other than a would-be assassin.

John Hinckley made the statement to a doctor who interviewed him in the past year at a Washington mental hospital. The statement and other pieces of information about Hinckley's life are part of hundreds of pages of documents prepared for court hearings in Hinckley's case.

Hinckley, who shot and wounded Reagan in 1981, is seeking more freedom from the hospital. He has been allowed to visit his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va., for up to 10 days at a time. Attorneys for the government believe he his trips should remain at 10 days.

A jury found Hinckley to be insane when he shot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster. He has spent most of the past three decades at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington. In recent years, doctors have said his mental illness has been in remission.

Hinckley said he still thinks about the actress, but only to ask himself "what was it about her that made me do this."

"I don't know. I must have been really crazy," he said.

Several hearings in the case ended this month, and a judge said he'd likely rule in April or May.

The court documents include reports by three doctors who spoke with Hinckley in the past year, two of them witnesses for the government and one a witness for the defense.

A doctor who testified for the government noted in his 80-page report that Hinckley regrets not being able to show or sell the paintings he does, most of them landscapes.

"I would like to be known as something other than the would-be assassin," Hinckley said.

Another doctor reported that around the time Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in January 2011, Hinckley commented: "Wow. Is that how people see me?" Then he vented frustration about being unable to change the public's perception.

"I don't have a microphone in my hand. I don't have the video camera. So no one can hear my music. No one can see my art. I have these other aspects of my life that no one knows about. I'm an artist. I'm a musician. Nobody knows that. They just see me as the guy who tried to kill Reagan," he said.

The documents also said a library computer at St. Elizabeths that Hinckley and others used included key word searches for "Jodie Foster," ''Reagan" and "assassination." Hinckley told doctors he wasn't the one who typed in the terms, and that the computer was available to a number of people.

Hinckley also said he did not search serial killers Ted Bundy and Charles Manson on the computer.

The website The Smoking Gun reported Thursday on the computer search terms and Hinckley's reaction to the Giffords shooting.

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