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Death of James Brady, wounded in Reagan assassination attempt, ruled homicide

WASHINGTON - The death this week of James Brady, the former White House press secretary, has been ruled a homicide nearly 33 years after he was wounded in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, police department officials here said on Friday.

Officials said the ruling was made by the medical examiner in Northern Virginia, where Brady died Monday at 73. The medical examiner's office would not comment on the cause and manner of Brady death.

"We did do an autopsy on Mr. Brady, and that autopsy is complete," a spokeswoman said.

The ruling could allow prosecutors in Washington, where Reagan and Brady were shot on March 31, 1981, by John Hinckley Jr., to reopen the case and charge Hinckley with murder.

Hinckley was found not guilty in 1982 by reason of insanity, and he has been a patient at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington since. News of the medical examiner's ruling was first reported by the NBC station in Washington.

Reagan, as well as a Secret Service agent and a District of Columbia police officer, were wounded in the shooting, but Brady was the most seriously injured. A bullet struck his head, damaging the right section of his brain. His left arm was paralyzed, and he suffered from short-term memory loss and impaired speech.

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