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Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Associated Press
Ed Sullivan, center, stands with members of the Beatles
during a rehearsal for the group's first American appearance,
on CBS' "The Ed Sullivan Show," in New York in 1964. From
left, are: Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Sullivan,
John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Chapman says
Lennon would want
him to be freed

The slayer of the former Beatle
is due for his first parole hearing
in New York on Tuesday

Staff and wire reports

The onetime Honolulu man who killed John Lennon says the ex-Beatle would want him released from prison.

Mark David Chapman has almost finished his minimum sentence of 20 years in prison for the slaying of Lennon in 1980, and will have his first parole hearing Oct. 3. Chapman is serving a life sentence at Attica Correctional Facility near Rochester, N.Y.

Chapman came to Hawaii about 1977. He worked at Castle Medical Center from August that year until November 1979, starting in housekeeping and moving into the community relations office. Supervisors and co-workers said he was "an all-around good guy" and "an excellent employee."

In June 1979, Chapman married Gloria H. Abe.

He left Castle to work in December 1979 as a security guard and maintenance worker at a Waikiki condominium at 444 Nahua. He resigned Oct. 23, 1980 -- signing John Lennon instead of Mark Chapman on the log the last day he worked.

Mark David Chapman
"Who knows when I'll get out?
But I'm alive."

He bought a .38-caliber handgun on Young Street about six weeks before the shooting. New York police said it was the same caliber and make of gun used to kill Lennon.

In an interview to be aired on Court TV the day before his parole hearing, Chapman said he thinks Lennon would have wanted him to be set free.

"I think he would be liberal, I think he would care," Chapman said. "I think he would probably want to see me released."

Elliot Mintz, a spokesman for Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, said he has no idea whether Lennon would have approved of parole for Chapman.

"John would have loved to have been here to speak for himself," he said in today's New York Post.

Chapman, in his first public remarks in eight years, says he wants to be released to start a new life.

"The mental illness is over. I often sit, particularly lately, and think, 'Gee, I'm 45 years old, and I'm a living human being,'" Chapman said.

"Who knows when I'll get out? But I'm alive. I'm breathing. I'm eating. I'm playing guitar, singing."

During the interview, excerpts of which were published in yesterday's Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Chapman described how he killed Lennon when the musician and his wife, Yoko Ono, were coming home from a late-night recording session.

"I grabbed the album I had leaning against the rail and I said 'John, would you sign my album?' He said 'Sure' and wrote his name and he handed it back to me. He looked at me and nodded his head down and said 'Is that all you want?'"

Lennon disappeared into a waiting car with his wife.

When Lennon returned to his Manhattan apartment building later that evening, Chapman approached him from behind and fired five bullets.

"It was a ruse," Chapman said. "I really didn't want his signature, I wanted his life. And I ended up taking both."

If Chapman's parole is approved, he could be released in December. Mintz said in today's Daily News that Ono has written a letter to the parole board, but he would not disclose what the letter said.

Chapman has been disciplined for only minor infractions while in prison, where he has worked as a clerk in the law library.

He has also expressed remorse for killing Lennon.

"I see John Lennon now differently than only a Beatle or a famous musician, singer, songwriter," Chapman said during his interview for Court TV with Jack Jones, a reporter for the Rochester newspaper and author of a book on Chapman. "I see him as a person, a father. It's a terrible thing that he's gone."

Lennon killer blames uncaring father

The man who gunned down John Lennon in New York two decades ago says he may have murdered the former Beatle to get back at his own father.

Mark Chapman, 45, has a parole board hearing next week that he hopes will allow him to leave New York State's Attica prison, where he has spent the last 20 years for the murder that stunned the world.

"I think the main problem was that my father never talked about life or problems," Chapman said in an interview published in Britain's Daily Express tabloid today.

His father David never told him he loved him, Chapman said.

"And I guess the more I look back on it, I didn't feel any love from him," the former Hawaii resident said. "Perhaps I was getting him back, killing John Lennon, ruining my life as well."

Chapman shot Lennon on Dec. 8, 1980, after considering killing his father, who worked as a debt collector for a bank.

"I wanted to hold a gun to his head, make him beg. Blow him away. I was really mad at him," he said.

Chapman believes Lennon would support his parole bid.

"I think he would be liberal. I think he would care," Chapman said. "I think he would probably want to see me released."

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