John Lennon's Killer Would 'Probably Stay' in Prison if Granted Parole

Mark David Chapman said he would live with a New York minister if released.

August 29, 2012, 3:30 PM

Aug. 29, 2012 — -- John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, would "probably stay right where I'm at" in prison even he were released, he told the New York State Board of Parole during an interview to determine if he should be granted parole.

Chapman was denied parole on Aug. 23 for the seventh time. The transcript of the Aug. 22 interview was released today.

Chapman, 57, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life for gunning down the Beatle outside of his Manhattan apartment complex on Dec. 8, 1980.

For the hearing, he was interviewed by video conference at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, N.Y.

"I'm so bonded that I could probably assure you that, if released, I'd probably stay right where I'm at," Chapman said. "You know, once you stand on a rock for 20 years and feel the waves on you and you don't go anywhere because you're on a rock, you don't want to move."

Chapman told the interviewer that God had performed a miracle for him days earlier, but he would not discuss the miracle on the record. He did say, however, that "the timing of it and the importance of it, were so great and I cried for half an hour."

He also credited God with changing him from "Mr. Psychopath" to someone the cares about others.

When the parole board officer asked Chapman where he would live if he were released, Chapman said that a New York minister he had corresponded with and met at the prison days earlier had offered him housing and work.

"There's a fellow in Medina, New York, and he's a minister and he's an older fellow and he has a lot of contacts in the area and he has agreed to refurbish his upstairs apartment for me and offered me two jobs," Chapman said.

His first job would be to cut down the minister's diseased ash trees, he said.

Chapman also recounted some of the events leading up to the murder and the day of the shooting.

He was working as a maintenance man months before the crime and signed his name as John Lennon after his last shift.

When the parole board asked him why he had done this, Chapman said, "I remember that distinctly. It was kind of a way of saying--it was kind of a warning. I didn't think I was John Lennon."

Chapman said he committed the "cold-blooded" crime "simply because [Lennon was] the most famous person I knew of."

He said he had a list of six or seven potential targets, including Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor and actor George C. Scott. Lennon just happened to be the most famous, Chapman said.

"I would like Mrs. Lennon to really know that," Chapman said. "I think it would help somewhat that it wasn't anger. It wasn't anything against her husband as a person, only as a famous person. If he was less famous than three or four other people on the list, he would not have been shot."

Chapman recalled meeting Lennon earlier on the day he shot him. He said the Beatle was kind and patient with him and signed his album for him. After that, Chapman described an "inner struggle" when he debated leaving and abandoning his plan.

"It wasn't all totally cold-blooded, but most of it was," he said. "I did try to tell myself to leave. I've got the album, take it home, show my wife, everything will be fine. But I was so compelled to commit that murder that nothing would have dragged me away from that building."

Looking back, Chapman said he deeply regrets the crime, calling it "a very selfish act" and "absolutely not worth it."

Mark David Chapman Does Not Want to Leave Prison

Despite Chapman's regret, the parole board denied his request for parole.

"You shot and killed an innocent victim, an international music star," the New York State Board of Parole wrote to Chapman. "Your actions clearly demonstrated a callous disregard for the sanctity of human life."

The parole board noted that Chapman's record does not have any prior convictions and that they took into consideration his good conduct in prison, educational accomplishments, his remorse, letters of support and "significant" opposition to his release.

But the board decided that "parole shall not be granted for good conduct and program completions alone."

"Therefore, despite your positive efforts while incarcerated, your release at this time would greatly undermine respect for the law and tend to trivialize the tragic loss of life which you caused as a result of this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime," the board wrote.

Yoko Ono, the wife of the late musician, said in 2010 that she opposed paroling Chapman and believed he could be a danger to her and her family.

Chapman became eligible for parole on Dec. 4, 2000, according to the New York Department of Corrections.

The Department of Corrections released an updated photo of Chapman that was taken on May 15, 2012. Chapman's next scheduled parole hearing will be in August 2014.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events