US

Should John Hinckley leave a mental hospital for good? Judge calls it a 'very hard decision'

Barry Levin, attorney for John Hinckley arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. A judge who will decide whether to let the would-be assassin of President Ronald Reagan live full time outside a mental hospital will hear closing arguments in the case.  (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)

Barry Levin, attorney for John Hinckley arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington, Tuesday, May 12, 2015. A judge who will decide whether to let the would-be assassin of President Ronald Reagan live full time outside a mental hospital will hear closing arguments in the case. (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)  (The Associated Press)

A judge deciding whether President Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin can live full-time outside a mental hospital says it's a "very hard decision."

But Judge Paul L. Friedman says he knew he would have to make this ruling someday when he "opened the door a crack" to John Hinckley Jr. a dozen years ago.

The judge has incrementally expanded Hinckley's freedom since ruling in 2003 that Hinckley could leave the hospital for daylong visits with his family. Hinckley now spends 17 days a month at his mother's home in Williamsburg, Virginia.

The hospital and his lawyers say he's ready to live there full-time. Prosecutors want more restrictive conditions.

The judge wrapped up a seven-day hearing on Hinckley's freedom Tuesday and did not say when he will rule.