By Nehru Odeh
What reggae superstar Bob Marley said about guiltiness pressing on one’s conscience holds true here. Forty years after he shot and killed Beatles star, John Lennon, outside his New York Manhattan apartment, Mark Chapman has confessed he assassinated him because he was “extremely famous.”
Chapman, the BBC reported, disclosed this while apologizing to Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono. According to him he shot Lennon for glory. The assassin, who shot Lennon four times in the presence of his wife, has been in prison since then. He was denied parole for the 11th time following a hearing last month.
Chapman, who sounded penitent during the hearing also said he thinks about the despicable act all the time and that he deserves to die, adding that he may spend the rest of his life in prison.
“I just want to reiterate that I’m sorry for my crime,” Chapman told the parole board at the Wende Correctional Facility in New York.
“I have no excuse. This was for self-glory. I think it’s the worst crime that there could be to do something to someone that’s innocent.
“He was extremely famous. I didn’t kill him because of his character or the kind of man he was. He was a family man. He was an icon. He was someone that spoke of things that now we can speak of and it’s great.
“I assassinated him, to use your word earlier, because he was very, very, very famous and that’s the only reason and I was very, very, very, very much seeking self-glory, very selfish,” he added.
“I want to add that and emphasize that greatly. It was an extremely selfish act. I’m sorry for the pain that I caused to her [Ono]. I think about it all of the time.”
Intriguing? Ono, who has always opposed Chapman’s attempt at parole told The Daily Beast in 2015 that she lived in fear of him being let out of prison.
“One thing I think is that he did it once, he could do it again, to somebody else – you know. It could be me, it could be Sean [her son], it could be anybody, so there is that concern,” she said.
According to documents obtained by the Press Association, the board rejected his latest demand for release on the grounds it “would be incompatible with the welfare of society”. Chapman was described at the parole board meeting as deeply religious and a devout Christian. He is eligible for another parole in two years.
Chapman was 25 when he committed the crime. However he is now 65 and married. His wife lives near the facility where he has been for eight years. He is also a clerk and a porter in a restricted block of the prison, where he was placed for his own safety.
Another intriguing thing about Chapman’s despicable act is that he was famously carrying JD Salinger’s book, Catcher in the Rye, when he committed the crime. Talking about how the book influenced him at the time, he told the board he had identified with the main character’s “isolation” and “loneliness.” He also said he deserved the death penalty
“When you knowingly plot someone’s murder and know it’s wrong and you do it for yourself, that’s a death penalty right there in my opinion,” said Chapman.
“Some people disagree with me, but everybody gets a second chance now.”
Asked if justice had been served, Chapman said: “I deserve zero, nothing.
“If the law and you choose to leave me in here for the rest of my life, I have no complaint whatsoever.”
While making its decision the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision board said it found Chapman’s statement that “infamy brings you glory” disturbing, and recommended his “personal growth and productive use of time”.
It also noted how Chapman’s “selfish actions stole the chance for future fans to experience the words of inspiration that this artist provided for millions of people”.
“Your violent act caused devastation to not only family and former band members, but the world,” it maintained.
Nehru Odeh is a Nigerian writer and journalist. Author of The Patience of an Embattled Storyteller, a book that foresaw the adoption, rape and murder of females by terrorists in Nigeria, his interests include popular culture, the arts, politics, business and