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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 October, 2004, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Lennon's killer in new parole bid
Mark Chapman
Chapman claims voices in his head told him to kill Lennon
Mark Chapman, the man who shot dead Beatle John Lennon, is due to go before a parole board this week in the hope of securing his freedom.

Chapman, 49, who shot the singer in the back outside his New York apartment on 8 December, 1980, was originally sentenced to 20 years to life.

It will be the third parole hearing for Chapman, whose previous requests to be set free were rejected.

Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, is among those opposing his release.

Safety fears

Ono, who was with the musician when he was assassinated, claims Chapman remains a threat to the safety of her and Lennon's sons, Sean and Julian.

In a letter to the parole board she said Chapman's release would "bring back the nightmare, the chaos and the confusion once again".

An online petition calling for Chapman to remain in prison for the rest of his natural life has been signed by nearly 2,000 fans - and includes angry threats to Chapman's life should he be freed.

John Lennon
Chapman shot Lennon as he returned from a recording session

Throughout his sentence, Chapman has been held at a separate facility in a maximum-security prison in Attica, in New York state.

A spokeswoman for the State of New York Division of Parole has confirmed that Chapman is among a number of prisoners scheduled for parole hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In 2000, Lennon's widow told the parole hearing that she would not feel safe if Chapman were released.

Two years ago, at Chapman's second parole hearing in 2002, the board noted Chapman's "very positive" behavioural record.

However, the board added that progress in such a controlled and structured environment "cannot predict your community behaviour" if released.

Chapman was denied parole on the grounds that it would diminish the seriousness of his crime.

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