John Lennon's Killer to Parole Board: 'I Am Ashamed'

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Mark David Chapman told parole officials during his latest, unsuccessful bid for release from an upstate prison that he is ashamed and sorry for killing John Lennon.

The 53-year-old Chapman was interviewed by the parole board for a fifth time Aug. 12 and immediately denied release. A transcript of the hearing was made public Tuesday.

Chapman told the parole panel that, over the years, he has come to realize the gravity of what he did, and how it affected not only Lennon, but his wife, children and anybody who knew him.

"I recognized that that 25-year-old man, I don't think he really appreciated the life that he was taking, that this was a human being," he said. "I feel now at 53 I have grown into a deeper understanding of what a human life is. I have changed a lot."

As he has in the past, he also told the parole board that he was seeking notoriety and fame to counter feelings of failure when he decided to kill the former Beatle.

"I would be something other than a nobody and that was my reasoning at the time," Chapman said.

The former maintenance man from Hawaii has been in prison for nearly 28 years for gunning Lennon down on a Manhattan sidewalk. He was sentenced to 20 years to life after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

"I am ashamed, that is my first thought. I am sorry for what I did," he said, according to the transcript.

In it's brief decision, the two-member parole panel denied release "due to concern for the public safety and welfare."

The panel noted that Chapman has not been disciplined in prison since 1994 and said he'd adjusted to prison.

"However, during the interview, you stated that you planned and conducted the premeditated slaying of John Lennon with an essentially clear mind. Your conduct thus precipitated a horrendously tragic event, which has impacted many, many individuals."

Chapman fired five shots outside Lennon's apartment building on Dec. 8, 1980, hitting Lennon four times in front of his wife, Yoko Ono, and others.

Ono, who has previously written the parole board arguing against Chapman's release, did not offer any testimony in his latest hearing.

Fifty others did, however, and 1,100 people signed a petition opposing his release. Three people wrote urging that he be set free, Heather Groll, a state Parole Division spokeswoman, said last week.

Chapman's next appearance before the board is scheduled for August 2010.