John Lennon's Killer Gets His Parole Hearing

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on August 21, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, could potentially be freed after a parole hearing this week. Will Chapman's seventh attempt at parole finally be the charm?

Chapman, 57, is set to be interviewed by at least two members of New York's parole board, CNN reports. A decision by the board, which has denied Chapman's parole requests every two years since 2000, could come a few days later.

What goes into the parole board's decision?

In New York, there are four ways to get paroled after a conviction:

  • Completing the court-imposed sentence, which does not involve the parole board;

  • Release to a period of post-release supervision;

  • Conditional release, which is automatic after a convict serves two-thirds of his maximum sentence; and

  • Discretionary release, which is what John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman is seeking.

In a discretionary release, an inmate goes before a parole board to make his case. The inmate's victims can also participate via a written statement, a recorded message, or an in-person interview.

John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono has submitted written statements opposing Chapman's parole before prior hearings, saying if the killer was freed, she and Lennon's sons "would not feel safe for the rest of our lives," according to the Los Angeles Times.

After Chapman's first parole hearing in 2000, the board declined to release Chapman because they felt he could still pose a threat to society, the Times reported.

The board apparently felt the same way in 2010, when they found parole would be "incompatible with the welfare of the community," according to CNN.

If the board agrees to parole this time, it can impose whatever conditions it deems appropriate on John Lennon's killer. Mark David Chapman shot and killed the former Beatle on Dec. 8, 1980. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

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