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Lennon killer denied parole

From CNN Assignment Editor Jonathan Wald in New York

Mark Chapman in a December 2003 photo
New York
John Lennon
Mark David Chapman
Yoko Ono

(CNN) -- John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, has been denied parole for the third time.

In explaining their decision to Chapman on Tuesday, the New York State Division of Parole wrote that it "was based on the extreme malicious intent you exhibited during the instant offense where you fired a handgun multiple times striking your target -- John Lennon."

During a 29-minute interview with a panel of three parole commissioners, Chapman said he killed Lennon because he thought it would generate attention, according to the Division of Parole's statement.

"Although proven true, such rationale is bizarre and morally corrupt," the statement said.

Chapman, 49, is serving a sentence of 20 years to life in prison for shooting and killing Lennon, one of the four Beatles, outside Lennon's New York City apartment on December 8, 1980.

He has served 24 years of his sentence at the maximum-security Attica Correctional facility in Buffalo, New York, and was previously turned down for parole in 2000 and 2002. He will next be eligible for parole in October 2006.

Chapman is held in a building with 105 other prisoners "who are not considered to pose a threat to him," said Linda Foglia of the New York State Department of Correctional Services.

Chapman has his own prison cell but, according to Foglia, "spends most of his day outside his cell working on housekeeping and in the library."

Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, submitted a letter requesting that parole be denied. According to Ono's legal representative, it was the same letter Ono submitted for the previous parole hearings.

Ono said that if Chapman were released, "myself and John's two sons would not feel safe for the rest of our lives -- people who are in positions of high visibility and outspokenness such as John would also feel unsafe."

Lennon's murder "managed to change my whole life, devastate his sons, and bring deep sorrow and fear to the world," the letter says.

Over 6,000 people have signed an online petition opposing the release of Chapman.

"Chapman committed a heinous crime, unprovoked and without remorse," the petition says. "He should not be free to harm anyone else. ... Please do not let this man back on the streets."

Some of those who signed the petition included threats of violence against Chapman if he were released.

In her letter to the parole board, Ono said Chapman would not be safe outside of prison. "He will cease to have the security that the state provides him now."

Lennon would have turned 64 this Saturday. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are the only remaining living members of the popular group.

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