Lennon's killer is still a danger and must not go free, parole board rules

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The Independent US

The man who shot John Lennon was told yesterday that he must remain behind bars. The New York state parole board, reviewing the case of Mark David Chapman for the first time in 20 years, turned him down for early release from his life sentence.

The man who shot John Lennon was told yesterday that he must remain behind bars. The New York state parole board, reviewing the case of Mark David Chapman for the first time in 20 years, turned him down for early release from his life sentence.

The board described the killing of Lennon as a "calculated and unprovoked" act and noted that Chapman had apparently not lost his attraction to publicity - the same attraction that prosecutors believe drove him to murder the former Beatle outside his New York apartment building on 8 December 1980.

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

Chapman, 45, has given regular media interviews, and last week told a newspaper in Rochester, New York, that he felt lucky not to have been executed for his crime. In rambling remarks, he also suggested that John Lennon would have approved of his release - a notion strongly rejected in a letter to the parole board from Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono.

"If he were to be released now, many will feel betrayed. Anger and fear would rise again," Ms Ono wrote. "I am afraid it will bring back the nightmare, the chaos and confusion once again. Myself and John's two sons would not feel safe for the rest of our lives." John Lennon would have turned 60 last Saturday.

Chapman was interviewed for 50 minutes in a closed hearing at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York. About four hours later, the parole board issued a one-page finding, that began: "Parole denied."

Chapman will have to wait another two years before he can apply for parole again. Legal experts believe he is unlikely ever to be released because of his high profile and the tough-on-crime mentality that makes it almost impossible for any murderer to obtain a conditional release in New York state.

Robert Gangi, a lawyer and the head of the Correctional Association of New York, a prison reform group, said: "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."

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