Back in New York, Chapman said he saw a movie that got him to waver in his thinking that he should kill Lennon.
"I came out of the movie theater and I called my wife [in Hawaii] and, for the first time, I told her ... what I was going to do and I was crying," he said. "And I said, 'I thought about life and thought about my grandmother.' And I told her, I said, 'Your love has saved me. I'm coming home.' And she said, 'Just come home. Please, come home.' So at that point, I had abandoned all the plans and was going to throw the gun in the river and that type of thing and come back and everything was going to be OK.
"Of course, that didn't happen," he added.
Though he flew back to Hawaii, Chapman soon returned to New York.
"A couple weeks later, it started to build in me again: that emptiness, that desire to become somebody, and I couldn't stop it," he said. "I lied to my wife and told her I'm going back there again and gonna get it together and write a book, write books or something, just to try to find myself, and she believed me wholeheartedly, as a good wife. And I left on Dec. 6. And on Dec. 8 I committed the murder."
Chapman said he has been working general jobs as a porter and law library clerk in prison. He hopes to live with his wife of 31 years, who currently lives in Hawaii, and find work in New York state whenever he gets released.
"I would find a job," he said. "I would do anything, anything practical. This last fellow had found me a job, found a farmer that was willing to give me a job on the farm. I said, 'Sure, thank you.' So I would do anything."
He told the parole board his deepening Christianity has made him a better person than he was when he committed the killing. But he understands why members of the public would want to keep him locked up.
"Prior to my incarceration and being who I was at the time before this happened, before the confusion ... to be honest with you, I would probably say, 'Leave him in there,'" Chapman said. "But now that I have done time in prison and have seen that people that come to prison are still people, my thinking has changed along those lines.
"But the average person on the street would probably say, 'Leave him in,' and I understand that," he said. "I can understand the feelings."