Forty-two years have passed since John Lennon was murdered on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The man convicted of his murder and imprisoned, Mark David Chapman, has been denied parole 12 times.
Chapman shot and killed John Lennon on December 8, 1980. Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, were on the way to their apartment at the Dakota on West 72nd Street near Central Park. Ironically, Mark Chapman was a John Lennon fan. Earlier in the day before the shooting, Lennon had signed an autograph for Chapman on a copy of his album, Double Fantasy, which had recently been released. Chapman waited for Lennon near the building until the evening. He killed him at the entrance of the Dakota. Visitors flock there every day since, even though it’s been almost 42 years. There’s a website where you can read about the incident and schedule a tour.
In previous parole hearings, Chapman has repeatedly said how remorseful he is for his actions, and has said that as the years passed, he continues to feel regret and shame for his actions.
During his 2020 hearing, Chapman admitted that his actions were dreadful and disgraceful and that he would not complain if the parole board decided to deny him parole and leave him in prison for the rest of his life, which they did.
The now 67-year-old was sentenced to 20-years to life imprisonment and is serving his sentence at the Green Haven Correctional Facility in upstate New York. Since 2000, Chapman has been eligible for parole, but the parole board has always decided against granting him parole, every two years, since he started applying.
In 2018, when Chapman was denied a parole for the 10th time, the panel refused to release him, stating that doing so would be incompatible with society’s welfare and safety, adding that killing Lennon in such a cold-blooded way, Chapman had shown a heartless and careless disregard for human life.
Since 2000, when Chapman became eligible for parole, Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, has been sending a letter every two years to the parole board, requesting that her husband’s murderer not be granted freedom and that he remain in prison for the rest of his life. She says that doing otherwise would cause her children to live in fear if Chapman were released.
Chapman’s 2012 parole hearing transcript stated that he had traveled from Hawaii to New York City to assassinate Lennon on December 8, 1980. Speaking during his 2012 parole hearing, Chapman explained to the panel about his brief internal struggle of whether to go through with the murder or not.
He told the board that the murder wasn’t all cold-blooded, and he tried to tell himself to leave and go back home to his wife and show her his autographed album from the star. Chapman said that the selfish desire to commit that murder was so compelling that he could not help himself, and he had to see his plan through.
Chapman’s next parole opportunity will be in February 2024.
Good luck with that. Yoko, are you there?