John Lennon’s killer apologizes for being “an idiot”

ALDEN, N.Y. (WIVB) – During an interview with a three-member parole panel last week, John Lennon’s killer said he was sorry “for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory.”

Mark David Chapman admitted fatally shooting ex-Beatle John Lennon in December 1980 outside the musician’s apartment house on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in front of Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. He was sentenced in 1981 to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

Last week, Chapman was again denied release from prison in his eighth appearance before the parole board. A transcript of the interview between Chapman and a three-member parole panel at the Wende Correctional Facility gives more insight on why the 59-year-old was denied parole.

He told the panel he was confused and “needed a lot of attention at that time.” Chapman said saw killing the musician as a way out and took his depressed state out on Lennon.

“A lazy way out of my doldrums. It was a horrible decision, but I knew what I was doing. There was no question about it. That’s why I pled (sic) guilty.”

Chapman said he had an opportunity to turn it around when Lennon was kind to him earlier in the day, but that he didn’t for his own self-glory. When asked why, he told the panel that beyond drinking and being isolated from friends and family, there was another reason.

“I just maybe wanted to end it all for me. I was suicidal earlier… I am not trying to make excuses. I was there, I did it, I could have turned it around, and I didn’t choose to do that. That bright light of fame, of infamy, notoriety was there. I couldn’t resist it. My self-esteem was shot, and I was looking for an easy way out. It was a bad way out but it was the way I chose, and it was horrible.”

He told the panel that the killing took incredible planning and that he stalked Lennon for three months prior to the murder. Chapman also acknowledged he had three other celebrity targets, none of which are named in the transcript.

Chapman said he is “sorry for this crime.” He said he has thought of the people affected outside of Lennon’s family.

“This wasn’t just done to a wife or a family. It was done to a lot of other people, and they still have pain. If for that reason alone you choose to keep me in here, that’s a valuable reason. Many, many people loved him. He was a great and talented man, and they are still hurting. I get letters so that’s a major factor. It’s not a regular crime. This wasn’t, you know, a crime of passion,” he said.

“At that time, I wasn’t thinking about anybody else, just me, but now, you know, obviously through people’s letters and through things I hear, a lot of people were affected here. I am sorry for causing that type of pain. I am sorry for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory.”

Chapman fixes wheelchairs, works as a clerk in the cell block and as a porter. A minister at Wende Correctional Facility agreed to take him in, should be paroled, and give him a job.

Despite his long incarceration, Chapman has remained married to his wife and will soon celebrate his 35th wedding anniversary. He said to the panel, “I can’t believe she has stuck with me all these years but she has. We’re closer to the Lord now than we were on the street so I am going to credit him with keeping our marriage together and our sanity.”

After deliberating, the panel denied Chapman’s parole, writing, “There is reasonable probability that you would not live and remain at liberty without again violating the law and your release would be incompatible with the welfare of society and would so deprecate the serious nature of the crime as to undermine respect for the law.”

He will next be eligible in August 2016. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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