Psychiatrist: Hinckley should not be allowed unsupervised time out in public

John Hinckley, seen here in 2003, has been allowed unsupervised time during visits to his mother.

Story highlights

  • Dr. Raymond Patterson testifies in federal court about John Hinckley Jr.'s behavior
  • Patterson: Hinckley engages in deception and has "distorted relationships" with women
  • He was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the attempt on President Reagan's life
  • He currently spends 10 days a month at his elderly mother's home at a gated community
Hearings will continue Monday to determine whether former presidential assailant John Hinckley Jr. should be allowed increased periods of visitation to his mother's home in Virginia and possible eventual release as a permanent outpatient.
Attorneys for Hinckley will get to question Dr. Raymond Patterson, whom federal prosecutors called as an expert witness in their effort to block the proposal from St. Elizabeth's, the Washington mental hospital where Hinckley has undergone treatment for three decades.
Patterson testified in a federal court hearing last week that he was concerned to learn that Hinckley sometimes did not follow the hospital-approved itinerary for how he would spend his few hours of unattended time while in Williamsburg, Virginia. In several instances, Hinckley was supposed to go to movies, skipped them and then later told doctors back at his mental hospital in Washington that he had attended the movies.
"He has gone out of his way to lie about it and then embellished the lie," said Patterson. The psychiatrist said he questioned Hinckley in November about being dishonest about his activities, and that Hinckley minimized it and called it "nitpicking."
Hinckley, now 56, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the March 1981 shooting of President Ronald Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy and Washington police Officer Thomas Delahanty. All four men survived, though Brady was permanently disabled and Delahanty's wounds forced him to retire shortly afterward.
Patterson said he had asked Hinckley about Secret Service reports Hinckley had gone into book stores and looked at shelves of history books which included volumes about presidential assassination. He said Hinckley maintained he never looked at those books. Patterson said he didn't know whether to believe him.
Hinckley currently spends 10 days a month at his elderly mother's home at a gated community. During those visits, he is allowed three hours of unsupervised time twice during his stay, although sometimes Secret Service agents are watching Hinckley without his knowledge. A federal judge is hearing testimony on St. Elizabeths' plan to increase his time in Virginia to two visits of 17 days followed by six stays of 24 days. The hospital is seeking authority to decide after that whether Hinckley should then be released as a permanent outpatient.
Dr. Patterson, the former director of forensic psychiatry at St. Elizabeths, told the court he opposes allowing any expansion of Hinckley's trip beyond 17 days and said the unaccompanied time should end.
Patterson said Hinckley engages in deception and has what he termed "distorted relationships" with women. He said those are risk factors in analyzing whether he could become a danger to himself or others. Patterson said Hinckley lied to his parents and psychiatrists prior to the 1981 Reagan shooting.
The doctor made a rare reference to actress Jodie Foster during these proceedings. It was Hinckley's fixation on the actress that led him to shoot Reagan in an attempt to impress her. Patterson said that relationship was a delusion and noted that years after the assassination attempt Hinckley said he was over his feelings for Foster. However, pictures of her were found in his room at St. Elizabeths at that time.
Barry Levine, a lawyer for Hinckley, has said the main issue is whether Hinckley is dangerous and that no evidence has been presented to show that he is. Whenever the subject has come up about Hinckley looking at books on assassination, Levine has said there were many books in the history section and agents don't know if Hinckley was looking at any books in particular.
The hearing on whether Hinckley should get increased freedoms will resume on Monday.