“That bright light of fame, of infamy, notoriety was there. I couldn’t resist it,” Chapman said. “My self-esteem was shot, and I was looking for an easy way out.”
The board denied Chapman’s release because it believed he could commit a crime again or that someone might try to kill him. On Wednesday, New York state corrections officials released the transcript from the hearing at the Wende Correctional Facility in Erie County.
Chapman, 59, said he encountered Lennon earlier Dec. 8, 1980, the day he gunned down the ex-Beatle, and that Lennon was kind to him and signed an album for him.
Chapman said the killing required “incredible planning.” He said he was living in Hawaii and visited New York about three months earlier to see if the rock star was at his Upper West Side apartment building, the Dakota at 72nd Street and Central Park West. After returning home to Hawaii, he decided he would go back to New York City to kill Lennon.
He said the idea first came to him years before.
Chapman said he read a book as a child about the Beatles and thought to himself that maybe someday he, too, might become someone important. But he said he wasn’t thinking about killing anyone at the time.
Later, Chapman said he saw a picture of Lennon and thought to himself, “What would happen if I killed him?”
The convicted killer, who said he has since found Jesus, said he still receives letters about the pain he has caused.
“It became very notorious, and unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one involved,” Chapman said. “There was a lot of people that were caused great pain, which I am sorry about. They still have pain today, and that’s why I am sitting here.
“My life had sunk into a depressed state. I was drinking. I just saw that as my way out, you know, a lazy way out of my doldrums. It was a horrible decision, but I knew what I was doing.”
He said he just celebrated his 35th wedding anniversary. His wife visits once a year from Hawaii.
Chapman fired five shots outside the Dakota, striking Lennon four times.
Chapman said he bought the revolver in Hawaii, but got the bullets in Atlanta from a police officer he knew. He said he didn’t tell the officer about his true intentions.
“I told him I had the gun, but I couldn’t get bullets, and I needed protection while I was in New York,” he said. “He gave me five bullets.”
Chapman was sentenced in 1981 to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
He will be eligible again for parole in two years.
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