Mark David Chapman, who shot and killed John Lennon twenty years ago, was denied parole Tuesday in Rochester, N.Y., in his first hearing since being convicted of second-degree murder nearly two decades ago, when he was handed down a twenty-years-to-life sentence.
Chapman, forty-five, spoke with London's Daily Express last week in an extensive interview. He claimed that he "could never dream of hurting another person" and said that if Lennon were alive, he would forgive Chapman for his crime. Were Chapman's request granted, he would have been freed from prison on Dec. 4 of this year. But the parole board saw it differently; in a statement, the board claimed that Chapman's release would "deprecate the seriousness of the crime and undermine the law."
The parole board's view was one echoed by Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, who wrote the board urging them to deny Chapman's request for parole as she was concerned about her own safety as well as that of Lennon's two sons, Julian and Sean. Dominic Mohan, a writer for London's Sun, recently ran a column urging readers to email requests to the parole board to reject Chapman's request.
"If Jesus Christ returned to earth for the sole purpose of decreeing that it would be appropriate to release Mark Chapman, the parole board wouldn't be willing to take the political heat they would get by doing it," a member of the Correctional Association of New York told the Associated Press.
Chapman shot Lennon on Dec. 8, 1980 outside the musician's New York apartment, shortly after Lennon had signed an album for him. Chapman will return to Attica state prison near Rochester. His next opportunity for parole is expected to be in two years.