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John Hinckley Jr. behaving normally, Secret Service says

The man who shot President Reagan and three others in 1981 is raising no alarm when he leaves his mental hospital for visits, the documents say.

April 12, 2013|By Wes Venteicher, Washington Bureau
  • John Hinckley Jr. arrives at court in Washington in this Nov. 18, 2003 photo. Newly released court documents detail his movements outside the hospital where he is being treated.
John Hinckley Jr. arrives at court in Washington in this Nov. 18, 2003 photo.… (Evan Vucci, Associated…)

WASHINGTON — The man who shot Ronald Reagan and three other men in 1981 has been behaving normally when he leaves the mental hospital in Washington, D.C., where he is being treated, according to Secret Service observations in newly released court documents.

John Hinckley Jr., 57, shops at Wal-Mart, Target and PetSmart during visits to his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va. One of his first stops is often a Wendy's. At home with his mother, he performs lots of chores, plays guitar and makes art. He shows few of the symptoms that led to the 1982 finding that he was insane, and therefore not guilty of attempted murder and other charges in the assassination attempt.

Hinckley has been allowed to make visits of increasing length to his mother's home since 2006. The documents released Wednesday, including mental evaluations, Secret Service surveillance transcripts and other records, detail his releases from February 2012 to January 2013. They are part of an effort by his attorneys to increase the amount of time Hinckley is allowed out of St. Elizabeth's Hospital — currently 10 days at a time.

The Secret Service transcripts show the detail in which Hinckley is observed. During random observations, agents noted whether he bought dry or canned cat food, described a McDonald's order and noted details on his clothing color and cleanliness.

The accompanying mental evaluations are similarly detailed, and note the kinds of transgressions for which Hinckley has been disciplined.

"He reported viewing and enjoying two movies when in fact he did not view the movies at all," one report states. "He was assigned treatment consequences for his actions."

The consequences included reduced visit days and fewer unaccompanied hours. He has also been punished for perusing books related to presidential assassinations.

The documents also include observations from his time at St. Elizabeth's, where his main hobby is caring for some cats. He attends regular counseling, music therapy and art courses. He volunteers at a library, helping patrons find materials and handling requests for materials in an interlibrary loan program, among other tasks.

His online interactions are reviewed along with his Internet use. He has had no issues at the library since 2009, when he was punished for viewing photos of a female dental school graduate student who had performed dental work on him.

Hinckley shot Reagan on March 30, 1981, after the then-president exited the Washington Hilton Hotel. Press Secretary James S. Brady was left paralyzed, and Reagan and two others were also injured. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in June 1982.

Hinckley said he had attempted to assassinate Reagan to impress the actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed.

The documents note he sometimes sees a "female friend," which the report notes is important because of his past obsession with Foster.

A hearing has not yet been scheduled on whether Hinckley's visits will be expanded, a U.S. District Court clerk said Friday.

wes.venteicher@latimes.com

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