On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was fatally shot near his apartment building in New York City. Last week, Mark David Chapman described the murder of John Lennon during a parole hearing, where he offered a feeble apology and boasted about his "incredible stalking" of the musician. On Wednesday, the parole board released a full transcript of the hearing, detailing the ramblings of a man who is, apology or otherwise, far from redemption.
Chapman met with a three-person parole panel on August 20 via a video interview from Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, where he's been an inmate since 2012. Before that, he was at New York's Attica Correctional Facility, where he served time since his sentence began in 1981. Chapman had pled guilty in court to killing Lennon and was sentenced to 20 years to life behind bars. Last week's hearing was his eighth request for release, which the panel denied in a decision made last Friday.
Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, has fought all eight requests by submitting letters of protest to the parole board stating that she and her two sons with Lennon would live in fear if Chapman were to walk free.
Media interviews, biographies, and popular culture's depiction of Chapman — namely in the 2007 Jared Leto biopic Chapter 27 — have painted a delusional man obsessed with the J.D. Salinger classic The Catcher in the Rye. The transcript of last week's hearing reveals a man who sounds just as obsessed with the murder today as he was more than 30 years ago. Warning: It's a disturbing read.
"That Bright Light of Fame" Led Him to Murder
The panel asked Chapman to restate his reasons for killing Lennon.
I was confused. I needed a lot of attention at that time, and I took it out on him.... My life had sunk into a depressed state. I was drinking. I just saw that as my way out, you know, a lazy way out of my doldrums.... I could have turned it around, and I didn't choose to do that. That bright light of fame, of infamy, notoriety was there. I couldn't resist it.
He Stalked Lennon For Months
When the board asked Chapman about planning the murder, he sounded boastful.
Incredible planning, absolutely, incredible stalking, very well thought out. I came [to New York City] I believe three months earlier to see if he was at the building, at the Dakota.... I told [my wife] that I was coming to New York to write a book, a children's book, and that I kind of needed space to find myself and she believed me.... I was very convincing.
He's Found Jesus
When Chapman tells the panel about his wife, he brings up one of many instances where he talks about the Lord.
We're closer to the Lord now than we were on the street so I am going to credit him with keeping our marriage together and our sanity.
Later on, when asked about the risk of being harmed by angry Beatles fans, he talks about trusting God to protect him, and even joining a faith-based profession.
There is some people out there that might want to harm me, but I leave it in God's hands. He kept Daniel in the lion's den, he will keep me.... There is a minister who has agreed to take me in, give me a job.
When asked whether he will be tempted by notoriety again if he were to be released, Chapman says he's only interested in one thing.
I am interested in one thing and that's ministering to prisoners. Me and my wife have a ministry. We distribute brochures that tell people about Christ.... That's where my heart is.
I found my peace in Jesus.... He has forgiven me.
An Early Fascination With The Beatles
Chapman reveals that he'd been fixated on the British band since childhood.
So I read a book at a very early age about The Beatles, a Hunter book, a big book at that time. You know, you dream of things like that, you know, maybe I could be somebody important or better.
He's Sorry, Sort Of
Chapman attempts to show contrition in front of the panel, but his choice of words seem to betray his sincerity.
I am sorry for this crime.... Through people's letters and through things I hear a lot of people were affected here. I am sorry for causing that type of pain. I am sorry for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory.
Read the full transcript here.
Images: Wikipedia Commons (2), Getty (4)