John Lennon’s Killer Up For Parole, Details From the Hearing

For the seventh time, Mark David Chapman was up for parole in the killing of John Lennon. Recently, the State of New York released a transcript from his parole hearing in August 2012. 

Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon in 1980. 

Below are a few highlights from the hearing taken verbatim from the transcript. 

Q. : Do you want to say anything about the instant offense. sir? 

A.: It was a very selfish act and I deeply regret it. I’m sorry for my crime. 

Q…:Why did you target this victim? 

A.: Because he was very famous. 

Q.: All right, So, you knowingly wanted to inflict death to this victim, John Lennon, correct? 

A.: Yes. Absolutely. 

Q.: And even after that [earlier] encounter [with John Lennon], you still waited for him to cause his death? 

A.: Yes. There was an inner struggle for a while there, you know, what am I doing here, leave now. It wasn’t all totally cold-blooded, but most it was. I did try to tell myself to leave. I’ve got the album, take it home, show my wife, everything will be fine. But I was so compelled to commit that murder that nothing would’ve dragged me away from the building. 

Q.: … And the paperback book you had, “The Catcher in the Rye.” Was there any significance to why you had that[?]

A.: At the time, there was a great significance. I identified with the book. I identified with the character, who seemed to be lost and troubled. And in my state of mind at the time, I felt of kind I had was him [sic]. And so, the book was like saying, this is me and I wanted people to read it and it was a confusing time for me. 

Q.: You said that you did this for the attention and notoriety? 

A.: Yes ma’am.

Q. : And how do you feel about it today?

A,: Absolutely not worth it. Absolutely ridiculously selfish act to take another human life so that I could be pumped up into, you know something that I wasn’t to begin with. I deeply regret it.

Q:… How do you feel about yourself now?

A: Because of my years, I was thinking about this and my age, it’s 57, I’ve come to the conclusion what happened was a very horrible thing. It did not need to be done. It was done for extremely selfish reasons that I regret to this day. I personally can’t think of anything more selfish to do, to take somebody’s life for your own aggrandizement and there were a lot of people in pain then and people that were still want to know what happened now. 

Q: People are still in pain, right? 

A. There [sic] still in pain, sir. I get letters all the time. 

Q.: Are you still in pain? 

A.: That’s a great question, sir. I wouldn’t say as much pain. I would say that the pain I have now is trying to stay as close as I can to what I think is right and that is to stay as close as I can to God. 

Q.: … Who else did you consider [killing]? 

A.: Johnny Carson, … George C. Scott. 

Q.: Did you share this plan with anyone, this cold, calculated plan?

A.: …[My wife]. And she said Mark, don’t, right away. And I flew home and met her at the door of our apartment and hugged and cried and it was over at that point. I was fine. In the weeks later, the compulsion started to build again. I felt like a piece of me had become empty again and the compulsion built again. 

Q.: … If you were to be released, what happens if you drift off again?

A.:… If released, I probably stay right where I’m at. You know, once you stand on a rock for 20 years and feel the waves on you and you don’t go anywhere because you’re on a rock, you don’t want to move. I’ve had a lot of waves coming through my life and I know how to handle it now.


Mark David Chapman was ultimately denied parole. The parole board stated that:

“…if released at this time, there is a reasonable probability that you would not live and remain at liberty without again violating the law and your release at this time is incompatible with the welfare and safety of the community…. Your action [the murder of an international music star] demonstrates a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life.” 

I highlighted many parts of the transcript of the August 2012 parole board interview with John Lennon’s killer. It is interesting to read about how big of a role the book “The Catcher in the Rye” played in the life of Mark David Chapman. You can read the entire 39 page interview here