Hinckley denied longer parental visits
Judge grants man who shot Reagan more overnight stays
From Terry Frieden
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal judge Wednesday denied a request by John Hinckley, the man who shot President Reagan in a 1981 assassination attempt, to have extended visits at his parents' Virginia home.
After a week of highly contested debate over Hinckley's mental condition, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman rejected proposals for Hinckley to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington for stays of up to four nights solely under the supervision of his parents at their home in southeast Virginia.
The judge did grant Hinckley from four to six additional overnight stays in the Washington metropolitan area.
Hinckley, 49, had been allowed to visit his parents eight times previously, including two overnight visits in the Washington area.
Tight restrictions on Hinckley's past visits will remain in place, including a prohibition on any contact with Leslie DeVeau, a woman variously described as Hinckley's girlfriend or former girlfriend.
"Any contact with Ms. DeVeau will be considered a violation of Mr. Hinckley's conditional release, and Mr. Hinckley will be returned immediately to the hospital," Friedman said in his ruling.
Hinckley's relationship with DeVeau had been a central issue in the courtroom battle between Hinckley's attorneys and government lawyers.
Government attorneys have insisted Hinckley remains a potential danger, and they have strongly opposed even the most limited visits with his parents.
The judge said he was particularly concerned about the mental hospital's failure to clearly define the relationship between Hinckley and DeVeau before recommending the extended visits.
"The hospital must work diligently to clarify the status of the relationship between Mr. Hinckley and Ms. DeVeau and to explore it fully with both of them separately, and if clinically indicated, together," Friedman said.
The judge was sharply critical of the hospital for failing to interview DeVeau during the past year. Attorneys for Hinckley and the hospital arranged an interview in the midst of the court hearing, but the judge said it was too little, too late.
"It is folly to presume that a single meeting, hastily arranged during the hearing, would satisfy anyone's burden to the court," the ruling said. "The circus-like tenor of this proceeding could have been avoided."
Friedman said the hospital's failing in the case "should not be laid at the feet of Mr. Hinckley," who did not hide the fact that he talked to DeVeau daily by phone and saw her once a week.
But the judge said it was unclear how the breakup of Hinckley and DeVeau would affect the patient's mental state.
The relationship was considered relevant because it was Hinckley's history of relationships with women, both real and fantasized, that were key to his mental state.
Hinckley said he shot Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster, a student at Yale University at the time.
During the shooting spree outside the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981, Hinckley also wounded White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Washington police officer.
Reagan and the others survived, but the wounds to Brady and the police officer left them partially disabled. Reagan died in June 2004 of Alzheimer's disease.
In 1982, a jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity, and he has been institutionalized at St. Elizabeths Hospital ever since.