Full freedom for man who shot Reagan

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John Hinckley, who shot US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, is "no longer a danger to himself or others" and will be freed from all restrictions this month.

The ruling caps Hinckley's four-decade journey through the legal and mental health systems.

US District Court Judge Paul L. Friedman in September said he would free Hinckley from all remaining restrictions on June 15 as long as Hinckley continued to do well living in the community in Virginia as he has for years.

At a hearing on Wednesday in Washington which Hinckley did not attend, Friedman noted Hinckley has continued to do well, and the judge made no changes to his plans for full freedom from court oversight.

"He's been scrutinised. He's passed every test. He's no longer a danger to himself or others," Friedman said at a hearing that lasted about an hour. Friedman devoted much of the hearing to talking about the "long road" of the case, which he was randomly assigned two decades ago, the third judge to be involved in the case.

He noted that Hinckley, who turned 67 on Sunday, was profoundly troubled when he shot Reagan but that he had been able to get mental health help. Hinckley has shown no signs of active mental illness since the mid-1980s, the judge noted, and has exhibited no violent behaviour or interest in weapons.

Hinckley was confined to a mental hospital in Washington for more than two decades after a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity in shooting Reagan. Starting in 2003 Friedman began allowing Hinckley to spend longer and longer stretches in the community with requirements like attending therapy and restrictions on where he can travel. He's been living full-time in Virginia since 2016, though still under restrictions.

Prosecutors had previously opposed ending restrictions, but they changed their position last year, saying they would agree to Hinckley's release

Hinckley's longtime lawyer, Barry Levine, said the case had "started with a troubled young man who inflicted great harm" and but that, in the end: "I think we have salvaged a life."

Reagan recovered from the March 30, 1981, shooting, but his press secretary, James Brady, who died in 2014, was partially paralysed as a result. Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police officer Thomas Delahanty were also wounded. Reagan died in 2004.

In the 2000s, Hinckley began, with the judge's approval, making visits to his parents' home in Williamsburg, Virginia. His father died in 2008, but in 2016 he was given permission to live with his mother full time.

Still, he was required to attend individual and group therapy sessions, was barred from talking to the media and could only travel within a limited area. Secret Service would also periodically follow him.

Hinckley's mother died in 2021. He has since moved out of her home. In recent years, Hinckley has made money by selling items at an antique mall and by selling books online.

Hinckley has said on his YouTube channel that he has started a record label, Emporia Records, and that his first release will be a 14-song CD of his music. He also promotes his music on Twitter.

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