Chapman 'pleaded with Devil' for strength to murder Lennon

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The Independent US

Mark Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon 20 years ago, pleaded with the Devil for the strength to carry out the murder of the former Beatle, he has revealed.

Mark Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon 20 years ago, pleaded with the Devil for the strength to carry out the murder of the former Beatle, he has revealed.

In an interview from the New York prison where he will shortly apply for parole, Chapman, 45, disclosed that he believed he should have received the death penalty for his crime.

"I should have been executed, you know. Well, if you commit murder, maybe that's what's due," he said. "I'm lucky to be alive. You know, I deserve to die."

Chapman shot Lennon at point-blank range outside his New York apartment on 8 December 1980, in front of his wife, Yoko Ono.

Despite his determination to kill Lennon, to achieve fame, and "to be loved", the 25-year-old loner, who had posed as a fan, revealed that he initially could not bring himself to use the gun which, wet with sweat, was hidden in his pocket.

Lennon, who had approached Chapman and offered him an autograph, apparently sensed his discomfort, and repeatedly asked him "if he wanted anything else".

Having spent the day waiting outside Lennon's apartment, pleading, "Help me, Devil, give me the power and strength to do this", the former security guard recalled the onset of a "dead silence in his brain". When he saw Lennon returning home later in the evening, he said, "a voice in my head said: 'Do it, do it, do it.' I aimed at his back and pulled the trigger five times and all hell broke loose in my mind."

Now a committed Christian, Chapman is hoping for release after a parole hearing next week. Under New York state law he automatically comes up for parole having served 20 years, and has the right to indicate whether he wants to be freed.

He said that until three years ago he had regarded Lennon as simply "a picture on an album cover", but that recently what he had done struck home. "It all became real three years ago, where this isn't an image I blew away. This was a beating heart ... I don't think most murderers realise what they've done. But I did. He became real for me, he stepped from the album cover."

Psychiatrists have been evaluating Chapman's sanity in preparation for the parole hearing. But he does not receive any kind of treatment, or any medication. "I've been mentally well for 12, 13 years. No problems. I'm on their highest grade of mental wellness."

He believed that John Lennon would forgive him and support his request. "I think he would be liberal, I think he would care. I think he would probably want to see me released. That's my opinion."

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