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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

No Hinckley Murder Charges in Brady Death

(CN) - Federal prosecutors won't be filing new charges against John Hinckley Jr., stemming from the death of former White House spokesman James Brady.

The case was re-opened last summer after a coroner concluded that shots fired during Hinckley's attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981 directly led to Brady's death 33 years later.

Friday's decision was made following a review of applicable law, the history of the case, and the circumstances of Mr. Brady's death, including recently finalized autopsy findings, according to the U.S. District Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Reagan, Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and D.C. Metro Police Officer Thomas Delahanty were shot during the March 30, 1981 assassination attempt in the driveway of the Washington Hilton Hotel.

All four survived the shooting. but Brady was gravely wounded by a bullet to the brain, and remained incapacitated for the rest of his life.

Hinckley was charged with three federal and 10 District of Columbia offenses, but a jury later found him not guilty by reason of insanity. Shortly thereafter Hinckley was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., and he has remained there ever since.

Prosecutors said the jury's verdict in Hinckley's 1982 trial was a significant factor in their decision not to pursue murder charges against him. Because he was deemed insane then, the government would be precluded, by collateral estoppel, from arguing that Hinckley was sane at the time he shot Brady, they said.

Additionally, before 1987, the District of Columbia courts abided by the "year and a day rule," by which a homicide prosecution could only be brought if the victim died within a year and day of the injury causing death. At the time that Hinckley made his assassination attempt, the year-and-a-day rule was still in effect.

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