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Reagan shooter to go free

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John Hinckley Jr has spent years fighting to be fully freed from the mental hospital where he has been held since being found not guilty by reason of insanity for shooting President Ronald Reagan and three other men.

Next week he will finally win his release, albeit under strict conditions. US District Judge Paul Friedman ruled Wednesday that the would-be assassin will be freed August 5 from St Elizabeths Hospital to live full time with his mother in Virginia.

Friedman’s ruling was not a surprise to those who have followed the saga of Hinckley’s life and the dozens of court hearings in recent years that delved into the minutiae of his mental well-being. Increasingly in recent years he has been granted many temporary unsupervised trips off the hospital’s grounds. In ordering Hinckley’s release, Friedman wrote that the presidential assailant no longer posed a threat to himself or others, and his psychotic disorder and major depression have been in remission for more than 20 years.

Much has changed since a deranged 25-year-old struggling musician, obsessed with movie star Jodie Foster, pulled out a gun on a dreary March 30 afternoon in 1981, and with six quick shots altered the trajectory of a presidency and the lives of those he wounded, including Reagan, White House press secretary Jim Brady, Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy and DC Police Officer Thomas Delahanty. Today Hinckley, 61, is “suffering from arthritis, high blood pressure and various other physical ailments like many men his age,” Friedman wrote. (AP)

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