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The BBC's Caroline Thomsett
"They said releasing him at this time would deprecate the seriousness of the crime"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 20:40 GMT 21:40 UK
Lennon killer denied parole
20 years on Lennon fans still mourn his death
The man who shot former Beatle John Lennon 20 years ago, has been denied parole following a short hearing by New York State prison officials.

Your most vicious and violent act was apparently fuelled by your need to be acknowledged

New York State Parole Board ruling
Mark David Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life in jail in 1980 after pleading guilty to shooting the former Beatle outside his apartment in New York City's Dakota Building.

On Tuesday morning he was interviewed for 50 minutes by three parole board members at the maximum security Attica state prison. It was Chapman's first application for parole.

About four hours later he was handed the board's one-page ruling, beginning with the statement: "Parole is denied".

Mark Chapman
Chapman says he wants to live an ordinary life
It went on to note that Chapman's killing of the former Beatle was a "calculated and unprovoked" attack on one of the world's most famous musicians, who was also a "husband and a father of two young children".

"Your most vicious and violent act was apparently fuelled by your need to be acknowledged," the ruling said.

"During your parole hearing, this panel noted your continued interest in maintaining your notoriety."

It concluded that releasing Chapman, who is now aged 45, would "deprecate the seriousness of the crime and serve to undermine respect for the law".

'No danger'

Chapman had argued that he was no longer a danger to society and had overcome the psychological problems which led him to shoot the ex-Beatle.

Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono told parole officials she feared for the safety of her and her two sons
Legal experts say it is extremely rare that anyone convicted of committing a violent crime is ever released on their initial parole hearing.

Lawyer Robert Gangi of the Correctional Association of New York said he thought it unlikely Chapman would ever be freed.

"The fact that it was John Lennon... eliminates any hope for even a slim chance for Chapman being released," he said. "The parole board is not going to risk the political heat by releasing Chapman."

'Vision of hope'

In coming to their decision the parole board also heard by letter from Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, who was with him when he was shot, that she would not feel safe if Chapman were released.

Myself and John's two sons would not feel safe for the rest of our lives

Yoko Ono
"I am afraid it will bring back the nightmare, the chaos and confusion once again," she said. "Myself and John's two sons would not feel safe for the rest of our lives," she wrote.

Under New York State law Chapman will be eligible for a second parole hearing in 2002.

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See also:

03 Oct 00 | Americas
Chapman parole board statement
03 Oct 00 | Americas
Yoko Ono: My fears
03 Oct 00 | Entertainment
John Lennon's legacy
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25 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Lennon's killer speaks out
12 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Lennon's Liverpool homage top song
07 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Unique Beatles recording lost
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Lennon's birthday tribute
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