Beatle Lennon's killer denied parole

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The Independent US

Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered Beatle John Lennon 20 years ago, has been denied parole.

Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered Beatle John Lennon 20 years ago, has been denied parole.

US parole officials rejected his bid for freedom, saying he had not lost his interest in publicity, a drive that fueled his "most vicious and violent act".

It was Chapman's first attempt for parole stemming from the brutal shooting that shocked the world in December 1980.

He will have to wait another two years before he again become eligible for parole.

The killer was interviewed for 50 minutes this morning at a closed hearing at the maximum-security Attica state prison by three parole board members, said Tom Grant, a spokesman for the New York state Division of Parole.

About four hours later, Chapman was given the board's one-page determination.

It began: "Parole is denied."

The board called Chapman's killing of Lennon "calculated and unprovoked."

In addition to being one of the most famous musicians in the world, Lennon was also a "husband and a father of two young children," the board said.

"Your most vicious and violent act was apparently fueled by your need to be acknowledged," the board said.

"During your parole hearing, this panel noted your continued interest in maintaining your notoriety."

In a recent interview, Chapman said he believed Lennon would have approved of his release.

But the board concluded releasing Chapman at this time would "deprecate the seriousness of the crime and serve to undermine respect for the law."

The parole board did note Chapman has an "exemplary disciplinary record" while in prison. But it added that because he has served his time in special protective housing "you have been unable to avail yourself of anti-violence and/or anti-aggression programming."

Chapman, 45, is serving 20 years to life in Attica.

He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in June 1981 for fatally shooting Lennon as the rock star and his wife, Yoko Ono, were entering their Manhattan apartment following a recording session.

Ono had written a letter to the parole board about Chapman's hearing.

State Senator Michael F Nozzolio, chairman of the Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, had asked parole authorities to deny Chapman's bid.

"John Lennon represented a vision of hope, peace and love," Nozzolio, wrote to Parole Board Chairman Brion Travis.

"Tragically, his positive message and his life were fatally ended by Mark David Chapman.

"It is the responsibility of the New York State Parole Board to ensure that public safety is protected from the release of dangerous criminals like Mark David Chapman."

Parole board hearings with inmates are closed to the public.

In Central Park, near where Lennon was slain, some fans who gathered at the Strawberry Fields garden dedicated to Lennon said they did not want Chapman to be granted parole.

"I don't think they should ever let the guy out," said Rod Hanson.

"It was a tragic loss to everybody, not just Beatles fans."

The full decision of the New York State Division of Parole Board read: "Parole is denied.

"You murdered the victim, John Lennon, when you fired a .38 special caliber Charter Arm revolver, filled with hollow-point bullets.

"You discharged all five chambers and hit Mr Lennon as many as four times.

"Mr Lennon was returning to his residence and was in the company of his wife when you committed this murder.

"This act was calculated and unprovoked. You had planned this crime for a protracted period of time and it is apparent that you were obsessed in causing fatal harm to John Lennon.

"In addition to being an international celebrity, Mr Lennon was a husband and a father of two young children.

"During your incarceration, you have maintained an exemplary disciplinary record which this panel has noted and considered.

"This panel also recognizes that, because of your continued special housing status, you have been unable to avail yourself of anti-violence and/or anti-aggression programming.

"Your most vicious and violent act was apparently fueled by your need to be acknowledged. During your parole hearing, this panel noted your continued interest in maintaining your notoriety.

"When all factors are reviewed, your discretionary release is determined to be inappropriate.

"Additionally, this panel strongly believes that your release to parole supervision at this time would deprecate the seriousness of the crime and serve to undermine respect for the law."

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