Quantcast
Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

Reagan aide Jim Brady's death ruled homicide

By Kasey Jones, Associated Press

Published: Fri, Aug. 8 12:00 a.m. MDT

 FILE - This March 30, 2011, file photo shows former White House press secretary James Brady, left, who was left paralyzed in the Reagan assassination attempt, looking at his wife Sarah Brady, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington marking the 30th anniversary of the shooting. This week's death of former White House press secretary James Brady, who survived a gunshot wound to the head in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has been ruled a homicide, District of Columbia police said Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.

FILE - This March 30, 2011, file photo shows former White House press secretary James Brady, left, who was left paralyzed in the Reagan assassination attempt, looking at his wife Sarah Brady, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington marking the 30th anniversary of the shooting. This week's death of former White House press secretary James Brady, who survived a gunshot wound to the head in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has been ruled a homicide, District of Columbia police said Friday, Aug. 8, 2014.

(Evan Vucci, File, Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — This week's death of former White House press secretary James Brady, who survived a gunshot wound to the head in a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, has been ruled a homicide, District of Columbia police said Friday.

Federal prosecutors said only that they are reviewing the ruling. But a law professor and an attorney for John Hinckley Jr., who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting, said bringing new charges against the 59-year-old in Brady's death seemed unlikely.

"I think it (the medical examiner's ruling) will mean nothing," long-time Hinckley attorney Barry Levine told The Associated Press. "No prosecutors will bring such a case. The notion that this could be a successful prosecution is far-fetched. There is no legal basis to pursue this."

Brady lived through hours of delicate surgery and further operations over the past 33 years, but never regained normal use of his limbs and was often in a wheelchair.

An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be a gunshot wound and its health consequences, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide, according to a news release Friday from District police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump. Nancy Bull, district administrator for the Virginia medical examiner's office, which made the ruling, declined to disclose any more results of the autopsy and referred inquiries to District police.

Besides partial paralysis from brain damage, Brady suffered short-term memory impairment, slurred speech and constant pain. His family said he died Monday at age 73 at his Virginia home from a series of health issues.

William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, said the office "is reviewing the ruling on the death of Mr. Brady and has no further comment at this time." District police and the FBI are also reviewing the case.

Tung Yin, a professor of law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, said Friday that it's rare that the act that could be considered the cause of a homicide occurred so long ago.

"It seems a little bit unprecedented," Yin said of the Virginia medical examiner's ruling. He said such cases more likely involve a person in a coma who dies some time later.

He said bringing such a case could cause problems for prosecutors, because Hinckley Jr. was found was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

"A jury has already concluded on the same incident that he (Hinckley Jr.) was not guilty. Nothing today changes that," Yin said, even if prosecutors say Hinckley is no longer insane. "That doesn't change what he was 33 years ago."

Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981, just two months into the new president's term. Reagan nearly died from a chest wound. Three others, including Brady, were struck by bullets from Hinckley's handgun.

In 1982, Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity of all charges in a 13-count indictment, including federal counts of attempted assassination of the president of the United States, assault on a federal officer and use of a firearm in the commission of a federal offense, as well as District of Columbia offenses of attempted murder, assault and weapons charges. The District of Columbia offenses included charges related to the shooting of Brady.

Levine said prosecutors would have the additional challenge of proving that Brady's death this week was the result of an act 33 years ago. "How do you prove causation beyond a reasonable doubt?" he asked.

Gail Hoffman, a spokeswoman for Brady's family, said the homicide ruling "is not a surprise to any of us." She said the family would respect whatever prosecutors think is appropriate in dealing with the ruling.

Levine said Hinckley wanted to express his deep sympathy for Brady's family. "He has the highest regard for (James) Brady," he said.

Officials at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, where Hinckley is a patient, have said that the mental illness that led him to shoot Reagan in an effort to impress actress Jodie Foster has been in remission for decades. Hinckley has been allowed to leave the hospital to visit his mother's home in Williamsburg, Virginia, and can now spend more than half of his time outside the hospital on such visits.

Levine doesn't expect the homicide ruling to affect Hinckley continuing to be allowed to continue the visits.

Brady undertook a personal crusade for gun control after suffering the bullet wound. The Brady law, named after him, requires a five-day wait and background check before a handgun can be sold. President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1993.

Jones reported from Baltimore. Associated Press writer Pete Yost contributed to this story.

Recommended
1. My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT,
Aug. 9, 2014

This is a big leap of injustice and presumptive for a medical examiner or prosecutor that is contradictory to every thing in the meaning of life. Why did the medical examiner wait 33 years to file for the cause of death. He knows everyone is going to die so why don't they just convict everyone of murder who commits a crime and harms someone? Why wait 33+ years then call it a homicide? The man lived well beyond the statute of limitations of any crime or law.

Of courts the courts are working in favor of any crimes related to guns and will choose to make this delayed autopsy and criminal act. I wouldn't doubt Obama and DOJ had something to do with influence this so called autopsy as gun crime, two crimes for one event. Normally an autopsy would never have been done if it wasn't for the intention of calling it a murder after the fact.

This could open the door for people to file for death benefits before they die claiming they are going to die some day but want their entitlement now.

2. What in Tucket?
Provo, UT,
Aug. 9, 2014

IF I were his family I would consider it a homicide. Not only that, but he had to put up with a lot of handicaps for many year.