D.C.

John Hinckley looked at books about presidential assassinations

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The man who shot President Ronald Reagan went to a Barnes & Noble and viewed books about the former president and presidential assassinations during day visits away from a mental hospital, authorities said.

On March 30, 1981, Hinckley shot President Reagan in Washington. He was deemed legally insane. (Photo: Associated Press)

At a hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors brought up that John Hinckley did this twice at a hearing about whether or not he should be allowed more time away from the hospital where he has been since the assassination attempt.

Prosecutors said Hinckley, who shot President Reagan in 1981 outside the Washington Hilton hotel, went to the bookstore on two occasions.

Hinckley sought books on Reagan, assassination, police say

During the hearing, prosecutors said Hinckley’s mother dropped him off at a movie theater and then left. However, instead of going to the movie, Secret Service surveillance showed that he went to Barnes & Noble and looked at books about Reagan and presidential assassinations.

Afterward, he returned to the lobby of the movie theater lobby, where his mother picked him up.

It’s not clear what books he read at the bookstore during the second incident.

Lawyers for Hinckley, however, said he has responded well to treatment.

Moving toward full-time release

They say St. Elizabeth's Hospital, where he is confined, support a plan to have Hinckley completely removed from the facility within a year.

Hinckley, who was found by a jury to be insane when he shot and wounded Reagan outside the Washington Hilton in 1981, has for years been able to spend days at his mother's home in Virginia.

On Wednesday, a Washington judge began hearing arguments that Hinckley should be allowed additional visits of 17 and 24 days.

The city's St. Elizabeths Hospital also wants the ability to decide if Hinckley should live away from the facility full-time, according to a court document.

Government: Hinckley still a danger to others

Government lawyers oppose the plan, calling it "premature and ill conceived." They say Hinckley is "a man capable of great violence" and that he is not "sufficiently well to alleviate the concern that this violence may be repeated."

But Hinckley's lawyer, Barry Levine, has said there is no evidence Hinckley is a danger to himself or to others. Earlier this year, he called the government's court filing opposing expanded privileges "shameful fear-mongering without any factual basis."

The hearing before Judge Paul L. Friedman is expected to take several days. The witness lists include Hinckley's sister and brother as well as his psychiatrist and case manager.

Members of the U.S. Secret Service are expected to testify for the government, which has suggested that the plan for expanded release would not give Secret Service agents an adequate ability to monitor Hinckley at certain times.

Reagan eventually recovered from the shooting and went on to serve two terms as president. A secret service agent and police officer who were shot also recovered from their wounds. Reagan's press secretary, James Brady, was shot in the head and permanently disabled. He has since become an advocate for preventing gun violence.

Reagan died in 2004 at the age of 93.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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