By Chris Heard
BBC News Online
An online petition by John Lennon fans opposing parole for his killer Mark Chapman has grown to more than 3,000 signatures as the deadline approaches.
Chapman has applied for parole twice previously
Chapman, 49, is due to go before a US parole board this week for the third time since murdering Lennon in 1980.
He had been sentenced to 20 years for shooting the former Beatle in the back outside his New York apartment.
Lennon, who moved to live in New York with Yoko Ono after The Beatles' split, would have turned 64 this Saturday.
Fans have mounted an internet campaign to try to persuade the authorities to refuse his release.
A petition addressed to parole officials in New York says Chapman "committed a heinous crime, unprovoked and without remorse".
"He should not be free to harm anyone else," the petition states. It adds: "Please do not let this man back on the streets."
Some of the signatories also suggest they would be prepared to consider violent retribution against Chapman if he were freed.
Beatles expert Richard Porter said feelings were still running high among fans nearly a quarter century after his death.
"Who knows what music John Lennon would have made if he were still alive?" said Mr Porter, who organises Beatles walks in London.
Lennon was shot outside his New York apartment
"He was planning to come back to England on the QE2 and there was talk of a Beatles reunion."
But he said he believed it unlikely that Chapman would get parole.
"He applies every year or so after the 20th anniversary and he keeps getting turned down."
Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, who was alongside him when he was shot, has said she fears Chapman is a threat to 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".
Chapman is being held in a maximum-security prison in Attica, in New York state.
His first parole hearing came in 2000, 20 years after the killing, followed by a further bid in 2002 . He was denied freedom on the grounds that it would diminish the seriousness of his crime.