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Judge: Hinckley can visit parents at home

Good behavior could earn Reagan attacker more privileges

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James Brady
Ronald Wilson Reagan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The man who shot President Reagan in 1981 -- and who has been in a Washington mental hospital since being found not guilty by reason of insanity -- can start getting out a little more.

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman relaxed the conditions for John Hinckley Jr. on Friday, saying he would be allowed three visits of three nights each to his parents' home in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Two years ago, Hinckley was granted permission by the court to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital with his parents for day trips and some overnight visits, but they had to remain within 50 miles of Washington. That restriction meant he could not visit his parents at their home.

He will not be accompanied by hospital staff.

If doctors determine Hinckley is behaving and interacting well with his parents, he could receive an additional four visits of up to four nights each.

However, Hinckley "is not permitted to leave one or both parents' supervision at any time during the course of the conditional release," except when the hospital prescribes time away from his parents, the judge said.

Friedman added that regardless of any prescription, Hinckley can't be away from his parents for more than 90 minutes and must remain in a certain geographic area. Also, he must refrain from activites like obtaining a driver's license and seeking a job.

Hinckley's attorneys wanted six initial visits approved.

Last September, the government opposed allowing Hinckley to visit his elderly parents' home, saying that he was still deceptive and dangerous.

Friedman said Friday that he approved of Hinckley "acclimating himself to the world outside the hospital" through a variety of activites, including gardening, shopping, cooking and walking around his parent's neighborhood.

Hinckley's attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment, and a U.S. Department of Justice official said the agency would not issue a comment until the ruling could be reviewed.

Hinckley has been at St. Elizabeths since 1982, when he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for wounding the president and three others: White House press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent and a Washington police officer.

Doctors have testified that Hinckley attempted to kill Reagan in an attempt to woo actress Jodie Foster.

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