Mark David Chapman, who was denied release from a New York prison last week for the eighth time for the murder of John Lennon, told a parole board he was “confused” and “needed attention” and took it out on the musician.
Chapman, 59, told a three-person panel during a video interview from Wende Correctional Facility in Alden on Aug. 20 that his life had “sunk into a depressed state” and he had been drinking before he killed the former Beatle in December 1980, according to a transcript of the hearing made public today.
“I just saw that as my way out, you know, a lazy way out of my doldrums,” Chapman said, according to the transcript. “It was a horrible decision, but I knew what I was doing.”
Chapman was 25 when he shot and killed Lennon outside the Dakota, the luxury apartment building where the 40-year-old composer of “Imagine” lived on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Lennon, who was returning from a recording session with his wife, Yoko Ono, died after being shot with four hollow-point bullets.
“You stalked and waited for your victim and thereafter shot him multiple times causing his death,” the board said in its decision, released last week. “The victim had displayed kindness to you earlier in the day and your actions have devastated a family.” Lennon had autographed an album for Chapman hours before the shooting.
Chapman was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 20 years-to-life in prison. He became eligible for parole in December 2000. His next scheduled appearance before the board is set for August 2016. Excerpts of earlier parole bids were previously made public.
Chapman described for the board how he planned the murder, traveling to New York from his home in Hawaii three months earlier to scope out Lennon’s residence, according to the transcript. Chapman then called his wife in Hawaii to tell her about the plan, according to the transcript.
He said he returned home on his wife’s urging and “the thoughts subsided for a while,” according to the transcript. He falsely told his wife that he’d thrown the gun away, he said.
“She didn’t have a clue,” he said, according to the transcript.
Chapman said he sold a Norman Rockwell painting the couple owned to finance his New York trips. He told his wife he was heading to New York a second time to write a children’s book and because he “needed space” to find himself, according to the transcript.
He said he acquired the revolver he used to shoot Lennon in Hawaii and the bullets from a friend in Atlanta who was a police officer after he claimed to need protection while in New York, according to the transcript.
Chapman said there might be “some risk” to his life if he’s freed because there are “some people” who want to harm him. He said he leaves that “in God’s hands,” according to the transcript.
Chapman said a minister at the prison has agreed to house him and give him work if he is released, according to the transcript. He said he now has three jobs at his prison -- fixing wheelchairs, working as a clerk and serving as a porter.
Chapman told the board he had felt excluded since he was a child and needed the notoriety of killing Lennon “to fill the gap that was in me,” according to the transcript.
“I sunk to such a low,” he said.
Chapman said he was sorry for the killing and that Lennon was a “great and talented man” whose death caused pain to many other people, according to the transcript.
“I am sorry for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory,” he said.
Chapman told the board he didn’t expect to be released, according to the transcript.
“My focus is totally - it isn’t on me anymore,” he said, according to the transcript. “Jesus has helped me see that he loves me, and that’s what has made the difference in my life.”