WASHINGTON — The man who shot President Ronald Reagan won't have to wear an ankle monitor if allowed to leave a mental hospital for good, a judge indicated Friday, brushing aside that request from the government.
Lawyers for John Hinckley Jr. are asking U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman to let their client live full-time at his mother's home in Virginia, saying the mental illness that drove him to shoot Reagan has been in remission for decades and he is ready to transition to life outside the hospital. But prosecutors and Hinckley's lawyers have disagreed about the conditions he should have to live under. Prosecutors were arguing for an ankle monitor as well as a GPS tracking device on his car, among almost three dozen conditions. Hinckley's lawyers have requested fewer restrictions.
Friday wasn't the first time the judge has rejected an ankle bracelet in the case. Hinckley is currently allowed to spend 17 days a month in Williamsburg, where his mother lives in a gated community, and prosecutors had previously asked that he wear a monitor for those visits. But the judge rejected that request in 2013, saying Hinckley had not done anything while on previous visits to "justify the intrusiveness and stigma of being forced to wear an ankle bracelet."
Even without an ankle monitor there are other ways to track Hinckley, who will turn 60 next month. In 2009, the judge said Hinckley would have to carry a GPS-enabled cellphone when he is unaccompanied in public. The judge was later told, however, that no one had looked at the data. On Friday, prosecutors said the Secret Service was still not looking at the data because they didn't have the right permission from the court. That frustrated the judge, who said he wasn't told anything different was needed; he then said he would not be ordering Hinckley to wear an ankle bracelet.
Hinckley's longtime lawyer, Barry Levine, said the government can still know where his client is any time it wants. In 2013, Secret Service agents conducted surveillance on him in 119 instances, nearly every time he was in Williamsburg, his lawyers said. In 2014, they conducted surveillance in 89 instances. Those numbers could include multiple instances in one day, his lawyers said.
Friday's hearing, the third day of testimony, also provided glimpses into Hinckley's life in Williamsburg. His psychiatrist, Dr. Deborah Giorgi-Guarnieri, testified that he wants to start a band. She said Hinckley, who plays guitar and sings, shouldn't be allowed to perform in public but should be allowed to publish his music anonymously.
Hinckley's case manager, Jonathan Weiss, whose job is to help him integrate into the Williamsburg community, said he had enquired about jobs at Subway and Starbucks, among other places, but that it was difficult to find a paying job because he is only currently in Williamsburg for 17-day stretches.
Weiss also said Hinckley had talked to him about the death last August of James Brady, president Reagan's press secretary, one of three people injured in addition to Reagan in the 1981 shooting. Hinckley said he felt badly about the pain he had caused Brady and his family, Weiss said, and wished he could take back his actions.
The hearing resumes Monday and is expected to last several more days.
Follow Jessica Gresko at https://twitter.com/jessicagresko.