Reagan shooter's voice comes through in court documents

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Should Ronald Reagan's Would-Be Assassin Be Released?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The man who shot President Ronald Reagan wants more than anything to "fit in" and be "a good citizen." He tried to get a fast-food job, and loves to drive. His musical tastes run from Elvis and Paul McCartney to Nirvana.

John Hinckley Jr. has been barred for years from talking to the media, but court documents made available this week contain rare snippets of his voice.

A federal judge is deciding whether to allow Hinckley to live full-time outside St. Elizabeths, the mental hospital that has been his home since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shooting that wounded Reagan and three others.

Hinckley has spent longer stretches of time on the outside in recent years, staying at his mother's home in Williamsburg, Virginia, where the hospital says he's ready to live full-time. Prosecutors have pushed for tight restrictions including wearing an ankle bracelet, a requirement the judge has dismissed in the past.

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John Hinckley Jr. Reagan shooter
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Reagan shooter's voice comes through in court documents
354390 091: James Brady and a police officer are seen lying on the ground after being shot while the suspect John Hinckley Jr. is apprehended,at right, moments after the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, Washington, DC, March 30, 1981. (Photo by Dirck Halstead/Getty Images)
John W. Hinckley Jr. is shown in this undated photo. A divided appeals court panel cleared the way Friday, Jan. 15, 1999 for Hinckley to make supervised day trips away from the mental hospital where he has been confined since he tried to assassinate former President Reagan. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2003 file photo, John Hinckley Jr. arrives at U.S. District Court in Washington. Hinckley, who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981 says he'd like to be known as something other than a would-be assassin. He made his remarks to a doctor who interviewed him at a Washington mental hospital. The statement and other pieces of information about Hinckley's life are part of hundreds of pages of documents prepared in advance of recent court hearings on whether he should be allowed more freedom. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
** FILE ** The parents of John Hinckley, Jr., Jack Hinckley, right, and Jo Ann Hinckley, walk to court in Washington in this Nov. 9, 2004 file photo. A federal judge has loosened the restrictions on Hinckley, allowing the hospitalized presidential assailant to spend seven overnight visits with his parents in Williamsburg, Va.; but he is not permitted to leave one or both parents' supervision at any time except when the hospital deems it necessary. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
This is an artist's rendering of John Hinckley Jr., right, and his parents Jack and Jo Ann in federal court in Washington, Monday, Nov. 8, 2004. A lawyer for Hinckley told a judge his client no longer is mentally ill and should be allowed longer unsupervised visits away from the mental hospital where he has lived since trying to assassinate President Reagan in 1981. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)
Artist rendering of U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, right, presiding over a hearing in Washington Thursday, Dec. 4, 2003, for John Hinckley Jr., the man who tried to kill President Reagan outside a Washington hotel in March of 1981, second from right, to be allowed unsupervised visits with his parents, Jack and Jo Ann, left. Hinckley's attorney Barry W. Levine is third from right. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)
Presidential assailant John W. Hinckley, Jr. looks out the window of the car that brought him to U.S. District Court in Washington, Oct. 4, 1984. Psychiatrists treating Hinckley have recommended an easing of restrictions on his mail “"n view of improvement in his clinical condition and judgement." (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz)
John W. Hinckley, Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Reagan, holds a rifle in Washington on Oct. 29, 1982. (AP Photo)
John Hinckley Jr. is photographed at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 16, 1982. (AP Photo)
John W. Hinckley Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in March 1981, holds a pistol to his head in this self-portrait and obtained from court records in Oct. 1982. The FBI released the polaroid image, which was part of the evidence used in Hicnkley's trail. (AP Photo)
This is a photo of the .22 caliber revolver, used by John Hinckley Jr., in his March 30, 1981 assassination attempt against U.S. President Ronald Reagan, which is displayed at Hinckley's 1982 trial in Washington D.C. Hinckley was eventually found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.. (AP Photo)
U.S. Marshalls escort John Hinckley Jr. as he returns to a marine base via helicopter in Quantico, Va. on Aug. 8, 1981. Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Reagan on March 30, 1981. (AP Photo/Barry Thumma)
Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, foreground, Washington policeman, Thomas K. Delehanty, center, and presidential Press Secretary, James Brady, background, lie wounded on a street outside a Washington hotel after shots were fired at U.S. President Reagan on March 30, 1981. McCarthy threw himself into the line of fire and Delehanty, on crowd control duty, was standing close to the gunman, John Warnock Hinckley, Jr., who pushed a pistol through a cluster of bystanders and fired six shots. Police and secret service subdue the gunman in the background. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, foreground, Washington policeman, Thomas K. Delehanty, center, and presidential Press Secretary, James Brady, background, lie wounded on a street outside a Washington hotel after shots were fired at U.S. President Reagan on March 30, 1981. McCarthy threw himself into the line of fire and Delehanty, on crowd control duty, was standing close to the gunman, John Warnock Hinckley, Jr., who pushed a pistol through a cluster of bystanders and fired six shots. Police and secret service subdue the gunman in the background. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Secret Service agent Timothy J. McCarthy, foreground, Washington policeman, Thomas K. Delehanty, center, and presidential press secretary James Brady, background, lie wounded on a street outside a Washington hotel after shots were fired at U.S. President Reagan on March 30, 1981. McCarthy threw himself into the line of fire and Delehanty, on crowd control duty, was standing close to the gunman, John Warnock Hinckley, Jr., who pushed a pistol through a cluster of bystanders and fired six shots. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
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More than 100 pages of documents made public in the case provide a fuller picture of what Hinckley has been doing in the last two years as his visits to Williamsburg increased to 17-day stretches. He has volunteered at a local mental hospital and made required visits with therapists, but he also shops at Target, Best Buy and J.C. Penney.

He often buys CDs. A music lover, he has gone to concerts and looked at music sites online. He's also exploring photography as a hobby and attended lectures at a local art museum. He treats his elderly mother to dinner at Ruby Tuesday and takes her on scenic drives.

When he returns to the hospital, Hinckley is interviewed by hospital staff. A government psychiatrist also questioned him before testifying in his case. Here are some of the things they quote him as saying:

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On taking part in group therapy sessions outside St. Elizabeths:

"It's really refreshing to be in a group with people who aren't completely out of their minds. The people in this group have normal lives, and normal problems. They have to worry about getting their kids to soccer, and what to make for dinner."

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On driving, which Judge Paul L. Friedman allowed him to do unaccompanied beginning in 2014:

"I love the feeling of being able to drive on the open road. It's so great."

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On being rejected for volunteer opportunities at a botanical garden, the local humane society and the law library at the nearby College of William & Mary:

The law library "would have been a great gig for me. But when it gets to a certain level and my name gets brought up, my reputation gets in the way and I hit another road block."

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On getting a job:

"I'd love to get a job so I can have some real income."

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On asking for jobs at Subway and Starbucks while being followed by the Secret Service:

Two agents were "watching and listening to every little thing. That just bummed me out once that started happening. It made me feel awkward and uncomfortable."

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On being busy:

"I don't like flipping around the TV, I want to do things."

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On the death in 2014 of President Reagan's press secretary James Brady, the person most seriously wounded in Hinckley's shooting:

"Brady's death, you know, it got me to thinking about what I did to this man. It really did. You know, that I so diminished his life, that for so many years he was in pain, he just didn't have the life he would have had ... It made me wish I could take it back but it is what happened."

"I have tremendous remorse."

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On trips outside the hospital:

They "have made me more human."

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Follow Jessica Gresko at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko

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