40 Years After John Lennon's Death, His Assassin Is Denied Parole Again

It's been 40 years since Mark David Chapman was sentenced in the killing of John Lennon. But is he still in prison, or will he be granted parole?

Sara Belcher - Author

Dec. 8 2020, Updated 2:22 p.m. ET

is mark david chapman still in prison
Source: Getty

It's been 40 years since music icon and former member of the Beatles, John Lennon, was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman. His murder rocked the music world, as John's death meant Beatles fans' hopes of the group ever reuniting were officially dashed.

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Since the killing, Chapman has been serving his sentence for a second-degree murder charge at the Wende Correctional Facility. He has applied for parole many times, though he is still in prison — potentially for life.

Mark David Chapman has been denied parole 11 times.

Since his original sentencing in 1981, Chapman has appealed his sentencing 11 separate times, requesting to be released on parole. Every time, he has been denied.

His most recent appeal happened in August 2020, and the Board of Parole ruled that he will spend at least two more years in prison.

Chapman was given a sentence of 20 years to life in 1981 on the second-degree murder charge after pleading guilty to the charges.

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john lennon
Source: Getty

In 2010, Chapman claimed that he assassinated the famous singer because he believed it would make him "become somebody, and instead of that I became a murderer, and murderers are not somebodies."

During his 2018 parole hearing, Chapman expressed clear remorse for his actions.

“Thirty years ago I couldn’t say I felt shame and I know what shame is now," he said, according to The Guardian. "It’s where you cover your face, you don’t want to, you know, ask for anything.”

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At each parole hearing, John's widow, Yoko Ono (who was there at the time of John's assassination), has submitted a letter reiterating why she believes her late husband's killer should not be released from prison — for the safety of her, her children, and Chapman.

“Someone may attempt or succeed in harming you out of anger and or revenge, or for the same reason that you did John Lennon, to assume notoriety," Yoko wrote in one of the letters, according to Rolling Stone.

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Chapman pled guilty, originally claiming he would never appeal the sentencing.

Before Chapman's trial, a series of psychiatrists interviewed him in preparation for a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. The hundreds of hours of interviews resulted in many of the psychiatrists ruling that Chapman likely suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, manic depression, or a personality disorder.

While his lawyers encouraged him to plead not guilty to the charges, Chapman ultimately decided that he would plead guilty to the charges, after claiming to have talked with God.

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Chapman claimed that he had spoken with God on two separate occasions, and in those conversations, God had instructed him to plead guilty. He also claimed, at the time, that he would never appeal the sentencing, regardless of the result.

"Because of these conversations on June 8 and June 10, it has become impossible for me to have a meaningful dialogue with him... he believes he is doing God's will," Chapman's lawyer, Jonathan Marks, told The Guardian in 1981.

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