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Hinckley hearing testimony focuses on right place for him to live

By Carol Cratty, CNN
updated 8:59 PM EST, Mon December 5, 2011
John Hinckley, seen here in 2003, has been allowed brief furloughs from a Washington mental hospital to visit his mother.
John Hinckley, seen here in 2003, has been allowed brief furloughs from a Washington mental hospital to visit his mother.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Man hospitalized since he shot President Reagan in 1981 seeks to become outpatient
  • A psychiatrist says she thinks Williamsburg, Virginia, is the right place for Hinckley, for now
  • He has been doing volunteer work at a hospital library there while visiting his mother
  • His depressive disorder and an unspecified psychotic disorder are in remission, doctors say

Washington (CNN) -- Testimony on day three of proceedings about the future of presidential assailant John Hinckley Jr. turned to whether Williamsburg, Virginia, is the right place for him to eventually live as an outpatient.

"I think it is right now," said Dr. Deborah Giorgi-Guarnieri, a psychiatrist whom Hinckley sees during his trips to his mother's home in Williamsburg. "It always requires constant assessment, but I think it is right now."

But Giorgi-Guarnieri testified Monday that Hinckley has had difficulty forming new relationships there. She said Hinckley does regularly talk with a female neighbor of his mother, and with both his female supervisor and a female co-worker at his volunteer part-time job at a hospital library.

Giorgi-Guarnieri said Hinckley, who likes to paint, has given paintings to both his supervisor and the co-worker. But she said that is something that is not unusual at that mental health care facility.

According to the psychiatrist, Hinckley also offered her a painting for her office but she declined, saying she already has enough artwork.

"He doesn't have a romantic relationship in Williamsburg," Giorgi-Guarnieri added.

Hinckley's relationships with women have always drawn scrutiny because he hoped to impress actress Jodie Foster with his attack on Reagan.

Hinckley, 56, currently spends 10 days a month visiting his mother in Williamsburg. A plan proposed by St. Elizabeths Hospital, where Hinckley has been treated since being found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shootings of President Ronald Reagan and three other men, calls for the visits to be expanded and, if no problems develop, for Hinckley's eventual release to live as an outpatient.

Prosecutors oppose the plan, which initially calls for two visits of 17 days each, followed by six visits of 24 days.

A key question posed during the hearings is what will happen to Hinckley when his widowed mother, Jo Ann, is no longer alive. She's 85 years old and sat in court Monday listening to testimony. According to Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, his mother is in good health.

Hinckley caregivers have not fully answered the question of what would happen after his mother is gone.

Hinckley has been seeing Giorgi-Guarnieri since October 2010, she said, and she estimated she has seen him no more than a dozen times.

She agreed with doctors from St. Elizabeths who testified last week that the most serious illnesses he had been diagnosed with -- depressive disorder and an unspecified psychotic disorder -- are in remission. However, the psychiatrist said Hinckley should continue taking his medicines, which include an antipsychotic drug called Risperdal and Zoloft for anxiety.

Giorgi-Guarnieri also agreed with other doctors who say Hinckley still suffers from narcissism but it has improved.

Hinckley's case manager and therapist in Williamsburg was asked point-blank by a federal prosecutor if Hinckley is mentally ill.

"I would say on the lower end of mental illness," said Carl Beffa. But he said Hinckley has not exhibited symptoms of the depressive and psychotic disorders he was diagnosed with years ago and which are now in remission.

"He has become sad, but not to the point of being depressed in a clinical way," said Beffa.

Beffa was asked about some of Hinckley's relationships with women including one known as "Miss CB," a former patient at St. Elizabeths to whom Hinckley was once engaged. Beffa, who has known Hinckley since 2007, said Hinckley had never told him he'd gotten engaged.

According to Beffa, Hinckley ultimately decided a serious romantic relationship with CB was not in his best interests. Beffa said he thought Hinckley had learned from the relationship.

Hinckley has been listening quietly to testimony. His brother and sister are expected to testify tomorrow.

In March of 1981, Hinckley shot Reagan as he left a Washington hotel after making a speech. Also wounded in the attack were Reagan's press secretary, James Brady, Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington policeman Thomas Delahanty.

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