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Will James Brady's shooter be charged with murder?

The death on Monday of former White House Press Secretary James Brady took a strange twist Friday, which could spell trouble for the man who shot him 33 years ago.  

Brady was shot in the head in 1981, the victim of an attack by John Hinckley Jr. meant to kill President Ronald Reagan. 

News reporter: "The president being thrown into his car. On the ground, James Brady, the press secretary. And under that, that's Mr. Brady there now."

The bullet caused paralysis, memory loss, and slurred speech, but it didn't kill him. At least, it didn't kill him immediately.  

That's because an autopsy completed on Friday determined the cause of death to be that same bullet that entered him 33 years ago.

What does that mean for the man who fired the bullet? NBC’s Pete Williams explains:  

"They, in theory, could file murder charges because, as I say, there's no statute of limitations on murder."

Hinckley was originally found not guilty by reason of insanity, and he has been in psychiatric institutions ever since. (Video via MSNBC)

​And ironically, outrage over Hinckley's verdict in 1982 caused politicians to weaken the insanity defense he would presumably use for any new murder charges today.

But Hinckley's lawyer told the Washington Post he's not worried, saying there are “insurmountable legal barriers to any prosecution.” 

What barriers? Basically, prosecutors would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that were it not for Hinckley's bullet, Brady would be alive — a difficult task, since Brady died at the age of 73.  

Bloomberg reports the medical office is releasing no other information, and prosecutors have been mum on whether charges will be filed.

Whether the bullet killed him or not, it did turn Brady into a lifelong gun control activist. 

He lobbied successfully for the 1993 Brady Law mandating background checks for gun purchases, and spoke often about gun crime. (Video via C-SPAN)

"I know  I would not be sitting here in this damn wheelchair if we had common sense legislation," Brady said.

Brady has already been added to Washington's 2014 homicide list. He is the city's 71st homicide this year. 

Images Provided by Getty Images and The National Archives 

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