After 12 denials: Will John Lennon’s killer ever be released from prison?

Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon on December 8, 1980, was recently denied parole for the 12th time.

Chapman, now 67, has appeared before a board to consider his next request for parole, New York state officials said. Chapman is serving his sentence at Green Haven Prison. The reasons for the refusal have not yet been published, but they hardly differ from the previous ones.

The next time the person who committed one of the most significant murders of the 20th century will be eligible for parole will be in 2 years.

Chapman, who has been in prison since 1981, was sentenced to 20 years to life. Since 2000, he has had the right every two years to ask to be released from prison, and he has always taken advantage of it. And he invariably gets rejected.

The committee that examines his applications is made up of three members. In previous denials, the explanation was that releasing Chapman would be inconsistent with public safety. In a partially redacted statement, they said the man killed Lennon “for no other reason than to gain fame.”

The front disclaimer states that while the risk of re-offending is low in the commission’s view, the problem is once again one of glory killing.

“No one’s life is more valuable than another, but the fact is that you have chosen a world-renowned person, loved by millions, and regardless of the pain and suffering you have caused his family, loved ones and so many others, you have shown callousness and disregard for the inviolability of human life, for the pain and suffering of others. This fact remains troubling to us,” the commission explained to Chapman.

Photo: Getty Images

Millions mourn Lennon to this day.

Separately, during the appeals, the commission regularly receives letters from Lennon’s widow – Yoko Ono, who also invariably asks that the man not be released. She worried about her safety, as well as that of the sons of the legendary musician – Julian and Sean.

“He did it once, he might do it again. It could be me, it could be Sean or somebody else,” she explained to The Daily Beast in 2015.

The commission has also received letters from members of the New York State Senate against a possible release of Chapman, which would endanger the safety of the people of the state.

Mark David Chapman shot one of the icons of the 20th century, John Lennon, with four bullets in the back outside his Manhattan apartment.

Chapman had been lurking outside the building all day, including getting John’s autograph several hours before. It kills him the night Lennon comes home from recording in the studio with Yoko Ono.

After the assassination, Mark stays put, reading Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. At his trial, he pleaded guilty, although his lawyer insisted that he be acquitted because of doctors’ testimony that he was in a psychotic state.

Chapman suffered from depression and had mental problems throughout his life.

He was a fan of The Beatles, but later became religious. It is believed that it may have all started years earlier, when in 1966 John Lennon announced that the band – then at the top of the wave – were “more popular than Jesus”.

It’s also the line that led to angry reactions in much of the US and almost ruined The Beatles’ American tour. Which is their last one there.


Photo: Getty Images

Chapman was also later provoked by the lyrics of Imagine, where John sings “Imagine that you have no possessions” – something that Mark considers hypocritical, given the considerable material goods that the musician enjoys.

In recent appeals, Chapman has shown some remorse for his actions. In 2018, for example, he told the parole board that “as the years go by, I feel more and more ashamed.”

In 2020, he called his actions “despicable” and said he wouldn’t complain if they kept him in prison for the rest of his life. “I killed him because he was very, very, very famous and that’s the only reason, and I was looking for fame. It’s selfish,” the killer said at the time.

It is unlikely that such confessions will help him in the next attempt.

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