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John Lennon's killer denied parole for seventh time

New York State Dept. of Corrections

Mark David Chapman is seen in this handout photo taken May 15, 2012, from the New York State Department of Corrections and released to Reuters August 23, 2012.

John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, was denied release from prison in his seventh appearance before a parole board, New York corrections officials said Thursday.

Chapman, 57, was denied parole by a three-member panel after a hearing Wednesday, the state Department of Corrections said.

Chapman shot Lennon in December 1980 outside the Manhattan apartment building where the former Beatle lived. He was sentenced in 1981 to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. The musician, singer and songwriter was 40.


Chapman was transferred in May from the Attica Correctional Facility in western New York to the nearby Wende Correctional Facility. Both are maximum security. The prison system doesn't disclose why inmates are transferred.

In its denial, the panel called Lennon's killing a "callous disregard for the sanctity of human life." It told Chapman in a written statement:

"The panel notes your prison record of good conduct, program achievements, educational accomplishments, positive presentation remorse, risk and needs assessment, letters of support, significant opposition to your release and all other statutory factors were considered.”

“However, parole shall not be granted for good conduct and program completions alone.  Therefore, despite your positive efforts while incarcerated, your release at this time would greatly undermine respect for the law and tend to trivialize the tragic loss of life which you caused as a result of this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime.” 

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A hearing transcript will be released in a few days, the Corrections department told NBC News. Chapman can try again for parole in August, 2014, the board said.

At his 2010 hearing, Chapman recalled that he had considered shooting Johnny Carson or Elizabeth Taylor instead, and said again that he chose Lennon because the ex-Beatle was more accessible, that his century-old Upper West Side apartment building by Central Park "wasn't quite as cloistered." Chapman fired five shots outside the Dakota apartment house on Dec. 8, 1980, hitting Lennon four times in front of his wife, Yoko Ono, and others.

The former security guard from Hawaii said that his motivation was instant notoriety but that he later realized he made a horrible decision for selfish reasons.

"I felt that by killing John Lennon I would become somebody and instead of that I became a murderer and murderers are not somebodies," Chapman told the board two years ago.

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Ono, 79, had said two years ago that she was trying to be "practical" in asking that her husband's killer remain behind bars. She said Chapman might be a danger to her, other family members and perhaps even himself.

In a 1992 interview at Attica, Chapman told Barbara Walters that it was dark when he shot Lennon in the back with a .38-caliber revolver after he exited a limousine, headed up the walkway to his apartment building and looked at Chapman. "I heard this voice — not an audible voice, an inaudible voice — saying over and over, 'Do it, do it, do it,'" Chapman said. He explained, "I thought that by killing him I would acquire his fame."

He has been in protective custody with a good disciplinary record, according to corrections officials.

This article includes reporting by The Associated Press.

Watch TODAY's morning news coverage from the day the legendary musician was assassinated outside his New York City apartment building.

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