The sister of the man who shot President Ronald Reagan said Tuesday he "doesn't bother anybody" while on release from a mental hospital and he should be allowed to spend more time at his mother's Virginia home.
Diane Sims was testifying at a court hearing for her brother, John Hinckley, who wants to spend more time outside Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, where he has been for some 30 years. His brother, Scott Hinckley, echoed his sister's testimony.
John Hinckley, 56, was found by a jury to be insane when he shot and wounded Reagan outside a Washington hotel in 1981. Doctors say his mental illness has been in remission for years, however, and a judge has granted Hinckley increasing freedom from the hospital. At the end of 2005, he was given permission to start making overnight visits to his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va., and those visits have since been increased to up to 10 days.
Scott Hinckley testified that his brother has an interest in art and music tends to go to those sections when they go to bookstores. He particularly likes Bob Dylan and the Beatles, according to papers filed in court.
Scott Hinckley said he has never known his brother to have an interest in books about Reagan's near assassination, as a government attorney suggested when the hearing began last week. According to a Secret Service surveillance report from July, Hinckley browsed in a bookstore when he should have been attending a movie. The report said he "looked at the shelves in the American History area that contain several books about President Reagan and his attempted assassination." The report does not specify any particular book that Hinckley looked at.
Sims said her brother goes about his business while visiting his mother. He likes taking long walks and volunteers in a hospital library.
"He doesn't bother anybody. He is not pointed out," Sims said, adding that people have been "very tolerant, very nice."
Sims said she doesn't believe her brother poses a risk to himself or others and that she has never seen him do anything violent while on release, statements Scott Hinckley also supported. Sims said she has no reservations about her brother's visits to Williamsburg being increased to 17 and 24 days and, eventually, to him living full-time in his mother's hometown.
Sims, who lives in Texas, was asked whether Hinckley might be better off living near her. She said others likely wouldn't approve of Hinckley being closer to her home in Dallas, where President George W. Bush bought a home after leaving the White House.
"When it comes right down to it we first need to consider the fact that President Bush lives not 10 minutes from me in Dallas," she said.