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Reagan Assailant Can Visit Parents

A federal judge loosened the restrictions Friday on John W. Hinckley Jr., allowing the man who shot former President Ronald Reagan to spend seven overnight visits with his parents in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Hinckley, who shot Reagan two months after he became president in 1981, had been permitted to leave St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, where he was committed as insane, only for outings around the nation's capital. He wanted to make longer trips and travel outside the area to his parents' community in southeastern Virginia.

The government opposed Hinckley's requests to visit Williamsburg, which is a three-hour drive from Washington.

U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled that Hinckley could be allowed three three-night visits and another four four-night visits.

"He is not permitted to leave one or both parents' supervision at any time during the course of the conditional release" except when the hospital deems it necessary, Friedman ruled.

Hinckley shot Reagan and three other people outside a Washington hotel in 1981. At the time, he was suffering from major depression and a psychotic disorder that led to an obsession with actress Jodie Foster.

Hinckley, found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982, said he had shot Reagan to impress Foster.

"He continues to misunderstand his relationships with women," said assistant U.S. attorney Thomas Zeno, who earlier argued against extending Hinckley's visits. What in other people might be simple juvenile behavior "cannot be shrugged off."

His doctors have said his depression and psychosis are in full remission.

Hinckley attorney Barry Levine said the government is engaging in a "prophecy of doom" by asserting that Hinckley has problems with women.

Regarding his interactions with women, "was Mr. Hinckley clumsy? I don't know," said Levine. "But he did nothing that was dangerous."

Hinckley imagined a hospital staff intern was interested in him when she "made good eye contact with him," Zeno said. "He thought there was a personal spark."

Since last year, Hinckley has been allowed occasional local overnight visits with his parents within a 50-mile radius of St. Elizabeths Hospital.