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Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Lennon's killer up for parole
John Lennon
John Lennon was murdered outside his New York apartment
Mark Chapman, the man who shot and killed former Beatle John Lennon, will have his first parole hearing next month.

Chapman, 45, is serving a 20-year-to-life sentence at Attica state prison for the murder of the star outside his New York City apartment in 1980.

According to parole board spokesman Tom Grant, Chapman will appear before the board at the prison at an unspecified date in October.

Mark Chapman
Mark Chapman's parole hearing is due in October

He is eligible for the hearing because he is approaching the end of his minimum 20-year period behind bars. If the board approves the parole request, Chapman could be free by December.

Lennon was shot four times outside the Dakota apartment building in Manhattan on 8 December 1980.

He was accompanied by his second wife Yoko Ono, with the couple returning from a late-night recording session.

Only hours before the shooting, Chapman - who had come to New York from Hawaii - was photographed with the singer outside the same building as Lennon signed a copy of his album Double Fantasy for him.

The picture, taken by an amateur photographer, was later transmitted around the world as news of Lennon's shock death broke.

Since his time in Attica, Chapman has been disciplined for only minor misdemeanours.

He has spent much of his time working as a clerk in the prison's law library.

Remorse

Chapman has also expressed remorse for killing Lennon. In an interview in 1990 he said:"It was an end of innocence for that time. And I regret being the one that ended it."

However, Robert Gangi of the Correctional Association of New York - who acts as a lawyer for prison inmates - has expressed his doubts over the likelihood of Chapman being released.

Yoko Ono
Concern: Yoko Ono fears for the safety of her son, Sean

"Each case should be handled individually but anyone convicted of the murder of a famous person is probably unlikely to ever get parole," Gangi said.

Yoko Ono, who still lives in the Dakota apartment, is also reported to have expressed fears over Chapman's release - principally with regard to the safety of her son Sean, 24.

Elliot Mintz, a spokesman for Ono, also said she would be likely to testify to the parole board before Chapman received a hearing.

"I'm sure she will have something to say on the subject," Mintz said.

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