Reagan press secretary James Brady's death ruled homicide based on 1981 gunshots

Issue now is whether John Hinckley, who shot James Brady, will face murder charge

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 6:44am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 August, 2014, 6:44am

Monday's death of US president Ronald Reagan's press secretary James Brady has been ruled a homicide as a result of the gunshot wound he suffered in the assassination attempt on Reagan in 1981, more than 30 years ago.

The announcement was made by the medical examiner's office in the state of Virginia, where Brady, 73, died in an old people's home.

There was no immediate word on whether the gunman, John Hinckley, who has been treated at St Elizabeths psychiatric hospital in Washington since his trial, could face new criminal charges. Hinckley, 59, was found not guilty by reason of insanity after he shot Reagan and three others on March 30, 1981.

Bill Miller, a spokesman for the US Attorney's Office, said on Friday that prosecutors were reviewing the ruling and that his office would have "no further comment at this time".

Over the past several years, Hinckley has been granted expanded trips away from St. Elizabeths and can now spend as many as 17 days a month with his mother in Williamsburg, Virginia. His attorney, Barry Levine, said he had not seen the coroner's report but that he felt confident there was nothing for prosecutors to consider.

Such cases are becoming more usual as advances in medical care help people live longer.

In 2007, a Pennsylvania man who had served 16 years for shooting a police officer in 1966 was arrested again and charged with murder after the officer's death. The man was tried by a jury and acquitted.

And in 2012, there was a shooting case in Washington that was ruled a homicide when the victim died 23 years later. In that case, the gunman was serving an 85-year prison sentence. New charges were not filed.