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The man who tried to assassinate the 40th president of the United States has been granted an ‘unconditional release.’
John Hinckley Jr., now 65-years old, was released from a psychiatric hospital in 2016 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for his 1981 assassination attempt against Ronal Reagan, according to CNN. Now, a federal judge is dropping the restrictions that were initially attached to the 2016 ruling.
The decision comes from US District Judge Paul Friedman. Hinckley Jr. will no longer require supervision of his movements and internet activity.
“If he hadn’t tried to kill the President, he would have been given unconditional release a long, long, long time ago,” said Friedman.
John Hinckley Jr. was 25 when he shot Reagan, along with three others, as they exited the Washington Hilton Hotel in DC, according to NBC Washington. The president’s press secretary, James Brady, was left paralyzed and died 33 years later from his injuries. Brady’s death was ruled a homicide, but federal prosecutors declined to charge Hinckley for his death. Experts cited a law preceding 1987 that prohibited homicide charges if the victim died more than a year and a day after injury.
Police Officer Thomas Delahanty and Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy were also shot, but survived their injuries.
After the 1982 trial, Hinckley was committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, where he remained for 34 years.
He later claimed to have shot the president in an attempt to woo actor Jodie Foster after becoming obsessed with the 1976 film ‘Taxi Driver,’ in which Foster played a young sex worker, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Hinckley wrote Foster, who was then 19-years-old, a letter shortly before the assassination attempt.
“By sacrificing my freedom and possibly my life, I hope to change your mind about me. This letter is being written an hour before I leave for the Hilton hotel,” he wrote to the teenage actor. “Jodie, I’m asking you to please look into your heart and at least give me the chance with this historical deed to gain your respect and love.”
Jodie Foster acknowledged that Hinckley wrote her many letters before the shooting took place, saying she felt “very shocked, very frightened.”
“I followed the law, I followed the evidence, and I followed the science,” Judge Friedman said regarding his ruling on Hinckley's release. “I’m very comfortable with where we are. I think it’s probably overdue… My caution, with taking incremental steps, should give us all a great deal of comfort that everything is going to be just fine.”
His attorney, Barry Levine, claimed experts found that his client posed no risk to the public and that his “mental disease is in full, stable, and complete remission,” according to CNN.
Since 2016, Hinckley has lived with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he regularly sings and plays guitar on his YouTube channel. He has garnered more than 20,000 subscribers since 2020.
News of Hinckley’s unconditional release comes at the heels of the California Parole Board voting in favor of releasing Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy in a Los Angeles hotel in 1968.
Judge Friedman says he plans to write an order later this week to ensure the provisions are removed from Hinckley’s release by June 2022.