At his parole hearing on October 5, a remorseful Mark David Chapman sat before a panel of three New York State Parole Board commissioners, explaining that his jealousy of John Lennon's fame, coupled with his own sense of worthlessness, is what drove him to shoot and kill the singer in 1980.
"I committed this act for attention," Chapman told the panel. "To, in a sense, steal John Lennon's fame and put it on myself, thinking I was a nobody at the time.
"When I was a young man, I thought something was going to happen to me. I thought I was going to be famous," Chapman continued. "I didn't know what it was, specifically. I certainly didn't think it was going to be [for] murdering John Lennon."
In the transcripts of Chapman's parole hearing, his third since 2000 (see "John Lennon's Killer Denied Parole"), he tells the board that he had been thinking about killing Lennon for some time, nearly going through with the act a full three months before he actually pulled the trigger. He also said that he had considered other celebrities as targets.
"I perceived [them] at that time to be phonies. I didn't think they were being who they really were, and that angered me," he said. "It wasn't the guy down the street."
As determined as he seemed to commit the crime, there was a period when he considered abandoning his plan. When he first arrived in New York to kill Lennon, Chapman had a change of heart after watching "Ordinary People," a 1980 drama about the accidental death of a young man.
"I guess it struck a chord with me. I called [my wife] and I said, 'Your love has saved me, and I'm coming back,' " he said. "When I came back I spent another two, three weeks in Hawaii, [and] it started to build again. It was just a tremendous compulsion of just feeling this big hole, of being what I thought was a big nobody ... and I couldn't stop it."
Chapman remained apologetic throughout the hearing, at one point telling the board that "I deserve nothing, because of the pain and suffering I caused." He also acknowledged the irony in his situation, noting that though he killed Lennon to become famous, the act has instead made him infamous.
"In some ways I'm a bigger nobody than I was before," he said. "Because people hate me now. That's a worse state."