WASHINGTON -- A psychiatrist testified for the defense today that John W. Hinckley Jr. showed signs of mental illness at age 7 or 8 and his life was filled with fantasies in the years before he shot President Reagan.
Dr. William Carpenter Jr., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland, said he interviewed Hinckley for 44 hours after the assassination attempt and found he had 'occupied himself in fantasy' during most of his college years.
Earlier, Hinckley sat grimly, then broke into a smile when his lawyers played for a jury a tape recording in which he strummed a guitar and sang a song he dedicated to actress Jodie Foster to a tune by Beatle John Lennon.
'Oh, Jodie -- Foster! My love will turn you on,' sang Hinckley on the tape found by FBI agents in his hotel room hours after he was arrested for the shooting on March 30, 1981.
The lawyers also played two tapes of Hinckley talking on the telephone with Miss Foster at Yale University. Each time, she spurned his approaches. Hinckley shook his head from side to side when Miss Foster hung up on him the first time, then grinned when she responded 'Oh no, not you again,' after he identified himself as 'John' in the second call.
Defense lawyers moved into the heart of their case, in which they will call four psychiatrists to back up their contention Hinckley was insane at the time of the shootings.
Carpenter said Hinckley, in 24 sessions in his prison cells, told him he began feeling 'there was something different' about himself when he had trouble making friends at an early age. He said he had even fewer friends in high school.
The psychiatrist told the mostly black jury that Hinckley withdrew even more when he was assigned a black roommate at Texas Tech University in 1974 and began reading 'the literature of bigotry.' He said after deluding himself that he could become a rock star, Hinckley magnified a false sense of 'self-importance' and invented a group called the 'American Front,' putting out a newsletter and creating massive, fictitious membership lists.
'The crucial thing to me,' Carpenter said, 'is that he undertook all those activities with all the time, devotion and commitment in the absence of their being shared with anyone else.'
Hinckley broke into a smile and looked on as jurors equipped with earphones listened to him sing, 'In the middle of the night I call your name.' The song was to the tune of 'Oh, Yoko,' which the late Beatle John Lennon, an idol of Hinckley's, dedicated to his wife.
In the spectator section of the courtroom, Hinckley's father bowed his head and his mother appeared to wipe a tear from her eye as they listened to the tape, apparently hearingHinckley sing for the first time. Both had testified that as a boy, Hinckley spent most of his time in his room teaching himself to play the guitar, and that they had never heard him sing.
In a second tune played for the jury, Hinckley sang softly, 'Jodie, Jodie, could it be that I'm the one; Jodie, Jodie, don't you know it's done.'
Defense lawyers played the tapes in trying to prove Hinckley was insane when he shot Reagan.
Defense lawyers gave no dates for the songs or the phone conversations, but Miss Foster testified by videotape that she and her roommates took calls from a man identifying himself as Hinckley between September 1980 and March 1981.
In a note he delivered to Miss Foster before dawn on March 6, 1981, Hinckley proclaimed, 'Goodbye! I love you six trillion times. Don't you maybe like me just a little bit?'
At the trial Wednesday, Hinckley flinched, stood up and fled the courtroom when he heard Miss Foster testify on videotape, 'I don't have any relationship with John Hinckley.' Startled deputy marshals escorted him out.
Hinckley grinned today when Miss Foster, answering one of his calls, said, 'Oh, no, not you again.'
Hinckley succeeded in engaging her in conversation for a time, while Miss Foster pleaded with him not to call anymore, saying talking to a stranger 'is dangerous and it's just not done and it's not fair, and it's rude.'