Insanity defense: Six notorious cases when it worked


John Hinckley Jr.
john hinckley mug shot.jpg
Our other Colorado connection, Hinckley was living in Evergreen in 1981 when he suddenly became one of the most infamous figures in the country. After an extended stay at the Golden Hours Motel on West Colfax, and regular meals at the McDonald's across the street, Hinckley traveled to Washington, D.C., and on March 30 of that year, he shot President Ronald Reagan as he was leaving the Hilton Hotel, where he'd addressed a labor conference.

Hinckley also injured a police officer, a Secret Service agent and Reagan's press secretary, James Brady, who was severely wounded but survived to become the namesake of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

When he went to trial in 1982, Hinckley's legal team claimed that he had been insane when he'd opened fire. According to his attorneys, he had become obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, and specifically with her role as a child prostitute in the 1976 Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver. The movie revolved around Travis Bickle (portrayed by Robert De Niro), who planned to assassinate a politician. Bickle didn't do so in the end, yet Hinckley is said to have decided that the best way to impress Foster would be to kill the president.

When Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity, several states abolished the death penalty, and others rewrote their laws. But while the man behind the gun became the symbol of the debate over the issue, he couldn't be an active participant. He remains institutionalized to this day, although courts have allowed him to take occasional visits outside the hospital where he's otherwise confined in order to visit family.

Continue to read more notorious examples of when the insanity defense worked.


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1 comments
Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

The insanity defense is as effective as prosecuting a police officer . Beyond rare !...

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