KUSA - A federal judge has ruled that the man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981 should be released from the psychiatric hospital where he's been for more than 35 years.
John Hinckley Jr. is from Colorado, and returned to live with his family in Evergreen in 1980 -- the year before he shot Reagan and three others in Washington, D.C.
It happened in seconds in March of 1981: gunfire erupting as President Reagan and White House staff members exited a Washington D.C. building.
During the assassination attempt, Hinckley managed to shoot and seriously wound not just President Reagan, but three others, including White House Press Secretary James Brady.
Brady was paralyzed in the shooting and later became a major advocate for gun control. He died just last year.
Now, 35 years after the attack, a federal judge has ruled that Hinckley can leave a psychiatric facility.
“It begins with the nature of his conviction, which is not guilty by reason of insanity,” said Dr. Robert Freedman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Medical School. “Under the laws of most jurisdictions, once he is no longer actively insane or a danger to reasonable, clinical opinion, he has to be released.”
Dr. Freedman has not treated nor spoken to Hinckley, but he said if patients follow rules and respond to treatment, they're usually released.
“In order to do that, his symptoms are monitored to make sure that they are not active any more, he’s no longer delusional or hearing voices, that he's compliant with his medication,” he said.
Prosecutors have disputed whether Hinckley can be cured of mental illness, but the now 61-year-old man will go to live with his elderly mother in Virginia, more than three decades after one of the most chaotic days in American history.
“It does not usually take this long, but after all, he shot at the President, so I think that crime is taken very seriously,” Dr. Freedman said.
The federal judge overseeing Hinckley’s case did put in some restrictions, including that Hinckley must have regular visits with his psychiatrist. He is set to be released after August 5th.