Hinckley won't face new charges in Reagan press secretary's death

The life and legacy of James Brady
The life and legacy of James Brady

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    The life and legacy of James Brady

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Story highlights

  • A U.S. attorney won't charge John Hinckley in the death of James Brady
  • Ronald Reagan's former press secretary was shot in the head during Hinckley's 1981 attempt to assassinate Reagan
  • The U.S. attorney says there are too many legal hurdles to prosecute Hinckley since Brady died 33 years later

Washington (CNN)John Hinckley won't face charges in the death of former President Ronald Reagan's press secretary, James Brady -- whose death last summer was ruled a homicide, even though it happened more than three decades after Brady was shot by Hinckley.

U.S. Attorney Ron Machen's office announced the decision Friday, citing two legal barriers it couldn't overcome in attempting to press new charges stemming from Hinckley's 1981 attempt to assassinate Reagan, during which Brady was shot in the head, outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.
Hinckley faced charges related to Brady's shooting during his 1982 trial, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. "Because the jury conclusively made this finding, the government would be precluded now from arguing that Hinckley was sane at the time he shot Mr. Brady," Machen's office said.
    The District of Columbia also had a "year-and-a-day" rule in effect at the time, which prohibited homicide charges if the victim died outside of that time span.
    "The Brady Family respects the decision of the U.S. Attorney's office for the District of Columbia not to move forward with prosecution," Brady's family said in a statement Friday. "We deeply appreciate the extraordinary outpouring of love and support since the Bear's passing. We miss him greatly."
    Brady was shot in the head in the Reagan assassination attempt. He survived, but was left with slurred speech and partial paralysis. He suffered from chronic diseases as a result of the gunshot, including aspiration pneumonia, which he was suffering from when he died -- leading a medical examiner to conclude that Brady had died as a result of a "gunshot wound of head and consequences thereof."