A federal judge granted John Hinckley Jr. — who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 — full, unconditional release on Wednesday.
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman called the process “a long road,” according to Fox News producer Jake Gibson, who added that the order takes effect on June 15.
“Mr. Hinckley was NOT present in court this morning. Defense attorney Barry Levine, who has represented Hinckley for decades, said he felt some gratification because although the ‘wounds he inflicted could not be healed,’ the process had ‘salvaged’ Hinckley’s life,” Gibson added.
Hinckley tried to kill Reagan on March 30, 1981, with a revolver in an attempt to gain the attention of actress Jodie Foster. The commander-in-chief was “wounded when one of the bullets ricocheted off of the limousine, striking him under the left armpit” and sending him to the hospital for 12 days, according to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Press Secretary James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and policeman Thomas Delahanty were also wounded during the shooting. Brady — for whom the White House briefing room is currently named — was partially paralyzed due to the attack before passing away in 2014.
Friedman announced in September that he was prepared to release Hinckley on June 15 if he “continued to do well,” according to the Associated Press. The Wednesday hearing was not expected to change those arrangements.
“Hinckley was confined to a mental hospital in Washington for more than two decades after a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity in shooting Reagan,” the outlet reported. “But starting in 2003 Friedman began allowing Hinckley to live for longer stretches in the community with requirements like attending therapy and restrictions on where he can travel.”
In 2016, Hinckley was granted permission to live full-time with his mother. “Still, he was required to attend individual and group therapy sessions, was barred from talking to the media and could only travel within a limited area,” the AP said. “Secret Service would also periodically follow him.”
Nevertheless, Hinckley has lived under various restrictions. In addition to letting officials access his devices and accounts, he is barred from traveling to places where he knows the Secret Service is protecting someone, and he must give three days’ notice before he travels more than 75 miles away from his Virginia home.
Friedman said that Hinckley, who is 67 years old, “has displayed no symptoms of active mental illness, no violent behavior and no interest in weapons since 1983,” the AP added.
Beyond his attempted assassination of Reagan, Hinckley gained attention in 2021 for his YouTube channel, where he has “garnered thousands of views and more than 8,000 subscribers for his original songs and covers of Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley tunes,” Rolling Stone reported. “But even though Hinckley’s content is fairly innocuous, there’s undeniably something more than a little bit iffy about a convicted presidential assassin crooning plaintive love tunes on social media.”
Rolling Stone determined that YouTube was even running advertisements on Hinckley’s content “due to a change in policy that allows YouTube to run ads on creators’ channels without their consent, while reaping 100% of the revenue.”
Levine, Hinckley’s attorney, told Rolling Stone that Hinckley “has put his music on YouTube in order to put his music in the public sphere.”
“He is grateful for the nice comments he has received,” Levine said. “He is working on an album and will be looking for a label.”