Judge grants Reagan shooter John Hinckley Jr. unconditional release

A hearing Wednesday was a final step in whether restrictions on Hinckley's life and movements should be lifted
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Judge's gavel
Judge's gavel
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A federal judge on Wednesday granted would-be President Ronald Reagan assassin John Hinckley Jr. a full, unconditional release, roughly 40 years after he shot Reagan outside a Washington, D.C., hotel.

U.S. District Court Judge Paul Friedman said in granting the released that Hinkley's journey from hospital detention to conditional release to now has been a "long road."

The judge’s order takes effect June 15, according to Fox News.

Friedman made the decision in a hearing that was essentially called for final reports on Hinckley's behavior and mental healthy before he's free to reenter society free of most all remaining restrictions.

In September, the judge said that he would free Hinckley from those restriction on that date, if he continued to do well.

The now-67-year-old Hinkley shot Reagan in 1981 outside of the Washington Hilton hotel. 

Hinckley resided in a mental hospital in Washington for over 20 years after being found not guilty by reason of insanity in connection with the shooting.

However, Friedman had permitted Hinckley to live for lengthy stretches in the community so long as he attended therapy, and with restrictions on his ability to travel. He now resides in Virginia under some remaining restrictions.

Hinckley must allow officials access to his electronic devices, email and online accounts. He is also barred from traveling to places where he knows there will be someone who is protected by the Secret Service and must deliver several days notice before traveling more than 75 miles from his home.

Hinckley now plans to hold a concert in Brooklyn, New York, in July as part of what he is calling the "John Hinckley Redemption Tour." 

Friedman has said Hinkley is not displaying signs of active mental illness and has not exhibited interest in weapons since 1983.

Ahead of Wednesday's hearing, prosecutors wrote that health officials who have overseen Hinckley's treatment for years believe he has "recovered his sanity such that he does not present a danger to himself or others because of mental illness if unconditionally released."

Previously, prosecutors were opposed to ending restrictions for Hinckley, but they altered their position last year, agreeing to Hinckley's release if he continued to exhibit mental stability and abide by restrictions.

Ahead of the hearing, a government prosecutor wrote, "the Government has found no evidence to suggest that Mr. Hinckley’s unconditional release should not be granted."