A Virginia medical examiner ruled today that the death of James Brady, Ronald Reagan's former press secretary, was actually a homicide, NBC Washington reports. Brady was severely wounded with a bullet to the head when John Hinckley tried to assassinate Reagan outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in 1981. The injury left Brady partly paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair with poor speech. Now, according to an autopsy, his death a few days ago was caused by complications from Hinkley's bullet.
Media reports say Hinckley could be charged in Brady's death: "There is no statute of limitations on murder in either the federal or state system," says an NBC justice correspondent, but he adds that officials may choose against taking action. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the assassination attempt and has spent years as a mental patient at a hospital in Washington, DC. His health has improved to the point where he's spending more than 50% of his free time on visits outside the hospital, but "a jury has already concluded on the same incident that he was not guilty," a law professor tells the AP. "Nothing today changes that." Brady, despite his injuries, waged a gun-control battle that led to the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act requiring gun background checks. (Read more James Brady stories.)