Insanity defense: Six notorious cases when it worked
John Hinckley Jr.
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.