Mark David Chapman Murdered John Lennon in 1980, under the shroud of terrible, suicidal depression, but these days he is driven to bring people to new life in Jesus Christ.
Chapman, now 59, told parole examiners at his latest hearing on Aug. 20, that he was no longer the man who sought fame by killing the Beatles legendary front man.
The Parole board ended up denying Chapman the possibility of parole for the eighth time, making the transcripts of their discussion available last Wednesday, but not before Chapman could testify about how the Lord had helped him.
Chapman said during the interview that he "knew how this was going to turn out," and seemed to use the hearing as a venue to talk about the prison ministry he and his wife now share, and to apologize for what he now considers a "horrible decision". He said he understood the decision the board had to make, and would respect their verdict.
He will continue serving 20 years to life at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, near Buffalo, N.Y.
During his testimony, Chapman owns his guilt, and never makes excuses. He said that he was drinking at the time and was very depressed, but said that was no excuse for killing someone. He claims he needed a lot of attention, and was even suicidal right before he killed Lennon. He told the board how he lied to his wife about his plans, and he told them how he stalked Lennon before he killed him. He said he bought the gun from money he made selling a Norman Rockwell painting, and how he got the bullets from a friend who was an Atlanta policeman.
"That bright light of fame, of infamy, notoriety was there," Chapman said. "I couldn't resist it. My self-esteem was shot, and I was looking for an easy way out. It was a bad way out, but it was the way I chose and it was horrible."
When asked whether he was worried that people may try to hurt him if he was released, Chapman answered by testifying about his trust in God.
"There is some people out there that may want to hurt me, but I leave it in God's hands," Chapman said. "He kept Daniel in the lions den, he will keep me. I trust him."
He told the board that if he was released he had work and a place to live lined up with a minister in New York. If released, he would have to stay in New York where his crime was committed. Chapman has no other crimes on his record.
Chapman has been married for 35 years now and his wife still visits him at least annually. She lives in Hawaii where they lived together before he committed the crime. He considers her his partner in life, faith and ministry.
He told the board: "We're closer to the Lord now than we were on the street so I am going to credit Him with keeping our marriage together and our sanity."
Chapman's anniversary gift to her was a gold cross with a ruby heart in the center. It was not "just to say, 'Thank you, honey.' It's to tell God thank you for His love for us, for sticking with us," Chapman said.
"I am sorry for being such an idiot and choosing the wrong way for glory. I found my peace in Jesus. I know Him. He loves me. He has forgiven me," He said. "He has helped me in my life in ways you wouldn't believe. That is where I am right now."
Chapman said he didn't say anything in hopes that the board would let him out, he just wanted people to understand he would not commit another crime again.
"God has helped me through the years to see, hey, there is other people in the world," he said.
To conclude, Chapman offered a respectful apology to the group who he must of believed had really made up their mind before the interview began.
"Sorry I got preachy, but that's what I am about, Jesus," he said. "Thank you very much for your time."