ATTICA, N.Y. — State parole officials rejected a bid for freedom Tuesday for ex-Beatle John Lennon’s killer, saying Mark David Chapman hadn’t lost his need for publicity, a drive that fueled his "most vicious and violent act."
It was Chapman’s first attempt for parole stemming from the December 1980 shooting death. Chapman won’t be eligible for parole for two more years.
Chapman was interviewed for 50 minutes Tuesday morning at a closed hearing at the maximum-security Attica state prison by three parole board members, said Tom Grant, a spokesman for the state Division of Parole.
About four hours later, Chapman was given the board’s one-page determination beginning: "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 that Lennon would have approved of his release.
But the board concluded that 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 that 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.
Immediately after Tuesday’s decision, Ono spokesman Eliot Mintz released to The Associated Press a letter Ono wrote to the parole board about Chapman’s hearing. In it, Ono refers to Chapman’s name only once, and on subsequent references simple calls him the "subject."
Ono described the pain of losing Lennon and how Chapman’s release from prison would unravel her life. She also said releasing Chapman might spark violence against him by angry Lennon fans.
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