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Lennon's killer denied parole again

  • Story Highlights
  • Mark David Chapman denied parole "due to concern for the public safety"
  • Now 53, Chapman is serving 20 years to life at Attica prison in New York state
  • Killer has been granted conjugal visits with wife for past 16 years
  • Chapman can apply for parole next in August 2010
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From Chris Kokenes
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(CNN) -- John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman, was denied parole for the fifth time Tuesday.

Mark David Chapman in a mug shot just after his December 1980 arrest.

The New York State Division of Parole issued a release saying Chapman's request was denied "due to concern for the public safety and welfare."

Chapman, 53, is serving a sentence of 20 years to life in prison for shooting to death the former Beatle outside his New York City apartment on December 8, 1980.

The killer has served 24 years of his sentence at the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility and was previously turned down by the New York State division of parole in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006.

Chapman is held in a building with other prisoners who are not considered to pose a threat to him, according to officials with the state Department of Correctional Services. He has his own prison cell but spends most of his day outside the cell working on housekeeping and in the library.

For the past 16 years he has received conjugal visits with his wife, Gloria. The visits are part of a state program called "family reunion" that allows inmates to spend up to 44 hours at a time with family members in a special setting.

Inmates must meet certain criteria to receive the privilege. Chapman has not had an infraction since 1994, said Erik Kriss, spokesman for the Department of Corrections.

Yoko Ono, Lennon's widow, in previous years has submitted a letter requesting that Chapman be denied parole. Calls Tuesday to Ono's legal representative have not been returned.

Fifty letters and a petition signed by almost 1,100 people were submitted objecting to releasing Chapman, said Division of Parole spokeswoman Heather Groll. Only three letters were submitted appealing for Chapman's release.

The next time Chapman can apply for parole is in August 2010.

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