35 years after trying to assassinate Ronald Reagan, John Hinckley Jr. will be released to his mother's home in Virginia

In 1981 John Hinckley Jr. nearly killed President Reagan in a deranged attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster. In that time, the troubled would-be assassin has grown fond of art classes, begun volunteering at a local library and taken time to care for a small colony of cats living on the grounds of the hospital where he's spent the last three decades.

The man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan 35 years ago will leave a Washington psychiatric hospital Sept. 10 to live full time in Virginia, his lawyer said Thursday.

A federal judge ruled in July that 61-year-old John Hinckley Jr. no longer was a danger to himself or others and could leave St. Elizabeths Hospital to live full time at his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va. At the time, Judge Paul L. Friedman had ruled Hinckley could leave the hospital as soon as Aug. 5.


Hinckley gradually has gained more freedom over the past decade, spending longer and longer stretches at his mother's home.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting of Reagan, his press secretary James Brady and two law enforcement officers outside a Washington hotel. In his July 27 ruling, Friedman wrote that Hinckley was a "profoundly troubled 25-year-old young man" when he shot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster, but he has not exhibited symptoms of major depression or psychotic disorder for more than two decades.

Hinckley's longtime lawyer, Barry Levine, on Thursday called Hinckley's departure from the hospital "a milestone" that was the result of a commitment by Hinckley and his family to "responsibly deal with disease."

"People of goodwill should celebrate his achievement and success," Levine said.

Levine said of his client: "I think he will be a citizen about whom we can all be proud."