Our Mad, Mad Country: Hinckley, a Baby Inside a Toaster Oven, and Marilyn Mosby


John Hinckley, Jr. is getting out. He, as you may recall, is the man who shot President Ronald Reagan, a police officer, a Secret Service agent, and Press Secretary James Brady. Brady later died as a result of the gunshot wound that struck him in the face just above the left eye. It was in 1981 when Hinckley fired the shots, attempting to assassinate President Reagan as a means of impressing actress Jodi Foster. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.


A moment after the assassination attempt of President Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr.

Now, U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman feels that Hinckley is well enough to live in the community. Although, had Hinckley been declared sane at the time of the shootings he would most likely have spent the remainder of his life behind bars. But, come August of 2016, Hinkley will be residing with his parents in a gated golf course community in historic Williamsburg, Va., where he says he’d like to fit in and be a good citizen. The man (Hinckley) who once was fixated on the assassination of President Kennedy, fantasized about hijacking an airplane, and stalked President Carter, now enjoys speaking to groups in art galleries and at mental hospitals. He also enjoys playing guitar, painting, and photography. He would like to land a job at Starbucks or Subway.

I wonder what Mr. Brady, had he survived the attack, would have enjoyed had he not been confined to wheelchair by a gunshot wound that left him with slurred speech and partial paralysis and suffering deficits in memory and thinking and the inability to recognize people. I’m sure that the simple act of standing at a counter and placing an order for a sandwich, unassisted, at Subway or any other business would have been high on his “I wish I could” list. Unfortunately, he died because of the actions of a man who speaks to people at art galleries and strums and plucks his six-string while intently watching men and women on the golf course behind his parents’  home.


James Brady

In fairness to Hinckley, he’s been allowed out for numerous visits with his parents and he’s been driving around and interacting with people in the community for quite some time and all without incident. Of course, he hadn’t attempted to kill a U.S. president until he fired that first round at Reagan. Until that day, he’d been out and about in the community as well. As they say, I’m just saying.

By the way, the Hinckley’s rear deck is just mere feet away from the 13th hole, just in case you decide to play there.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is 40-year-old Melissa Wright of Hillbrook, Alabama. You may recall that Ms. Wright pleaded guilty in 2003 to the attempted murder of her 14-month-old daughter, Ashley Smith. She tried to kill the girl by placing her in a broiler oven. The child has since endured over two dozen operations due to the burns she received.

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Ashley is now 15.

Melissa Wright was recently up for parole. During the hearing Ashley requested that her mother remain in prison. However, her older sister pleaded with the board to release their mother. A prosecutor says he wants Wright to serve every day of her 25 year sentence.

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Ashley Smith at her mother’s parole hearing.

The board denied Wright’s release, for now.

And then there’s the case of the Baltimore Six, the officers on trial for the death of Freddie Gray, a man who died during an incident involving those six officers.

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Today, Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby dropped all charges against the remaining officers accused of killing Gray. Previous trials each resulted in acquittals with the exception of one that ended in a mistrial. During the trials, Judge Barry G. Williams Jr. made it perfectly clear that he did not believe Mosby’s theory of the case, In addition, Judge Williams found that prosecutors deliberately withheld information that would have been beneficial to the defense.

So, a case that received much national attention, one that prompted protestors to riot and loot and burn parts of the city and presented Mosby with opportunities to appear in national TV sows, magazines, and onstage with Prince, has ended without a single conviction after a judge repeatedly said there simply was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

This, after Mosby’s news conference announcing that she planned to bring charges against the Baltimore officers. She said, “To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America. I heard your call for “no justice, no peace…To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment, this is your moment…You’re at the forefront of this cause. And as young people, our time is now.”

After the prosecutor’s fiery press conference and subsequent to when areas of Baltimore were set ablaze and destroyed, Judge Williams issued a gag order preventing all parties from the prosecution and defense from publicly discussing the case. Today, the order was lifted and a still-defiant Mosby once again turned to the media to share her feelings about police when she blamed them, a lack of communal oversight of police, and entire the justice system (the same justice system that’s for everyone, not just her) for her failure to produce guilty verdicts.

Mosby said today, “After much thought and prayer it has become clear to me that without being able to work with an independent investigatory agency from the very start, without having a say in the election of whether our cases proceed in front of a judge or a jury … we can try this case 100 times … and we would still end up with the same results.” 

To respond to Mosey’s comments:

  • She and her team had every opportunity to work with an independent agency of their choosing, but she elected to do conduct her own investigation using her own investigators and the evidence they presented—evidence the judge said did not rise to the level of criminal wrongdoing. Remember, there must be proof of a crime to convict anyone. And it was their own evidence, evidence that favored the officers, that was withheld from the defense.
  • It is the right of ANY and ALL people who’re facing criminal charges as to whether or not they want a bench trial (by a judge) or a trial by jury. This is not something a prosecutor has control over. Not today, not ever before.
  • She’s right, she’d probably not get a conviction in this case in 100 attempts to do so, because the crimes charged were not a reflection of the event. There must be criminal intent.

On the hand, were the officers responsible for the safety of Freddie Gray? Sure they were, but the safety of the officers as well as the safety of everyone at the scene were equally as important. Decisions made that day, during the spur of moment—in mere seconds—are a small example of the decisions that must be made by police officers every single day.

Mosby said she stands by the medical examiner’s report that Gray’s death was a homicide. Well, I can sort of agree with that statement. Remember, homicide and murder are not always the same.

It is Murder that’s the unlawful killing of another person. The judge in this case said there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. None.

“I understand that murder is a crime,” you say, but…what’s the difference between murder and homicide? Don’t they share the same meaning? Is there a difference?

Yes, of course there’s a distinction between the two, and the things that set them apart are extremely important.

Again, murder is the unlawful killing of a person, especially with malice aforethought.

The definition of homicide, however, encompasses ALL killings of human beings by other humans. And certain homicides are absolutely legal.

Anyway, back to the Baltimore Six. I’m all for justice. Had this been a case involving criminal intent, where the officers did something to intentionally injure or kill Mr. Gray, well, they should’ve been found guilty and sent to prison. And I’m a firm believer that when people break the law, including police officers, they should be charged.

However, that was simply not the case this time.

By the way, Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby now faces disbarment charges as well as civil lawsuits from the majority of officers she charged in this case.

*As always, please … no arguments about gun control, police-bashing, protestors, political rants and raves, bashing of political candidates, religion, race, and, well, the usual. Oh, and please do save the bad language for other pages. We have kids who visit this page and I’d like to keep the site as kid-friendly as possible. Besides, I’m extremely weary of seeing and hearing the “F” word. But that’s just me. Thanks!

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