On This Day: Mark Chapman Pleads Guilty for the Murder of John Lennon in 1981

John Lennon is one of the most remembered musicians on the face of the earth. He’s remembered for being an integral part of The Beatles and for launching a very successful solo career. Unfortunately, he’s also known for his untimely death at the hands of an unwell fan.

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The Fateful Day Of John Lennon’s Death

John Lennon’s murder occurred on December 8, 1980. While autographing a copy of his album Double Fantasy for a Mark David Chapman outside of The Dakota in New York City, the fan in question was working up the courage to do the unthinkable. Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono left for a recording session and returned that night near 11:00 pm. As they walked to the apartment building, Chapman shot Lennon twice at close range. Lennon was taken to the hospital immediately, where he was pronounced dead.

The murder shocked the world and left fans and Lennon’s loved ones with confusing, immeasurable grief. Chapman was arrested soon after.

Justice Is Finally Served

On June 22, 1981, Mark David Chapman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He is still serving his sentence at Green Haven Correctional Facility.

Chapman did not take the advice of his lawyer and decided to plead guilty, rather than go to trial. According to Chapman, he believed that the “choice” to go to prison was “the will of God.”

Fans still speculate why Chapman did what he did. He’s said in later years that he did not kill Lennon to become famous and avoided interviews for years. When he was first arrested, investigators discovered that Chapman had been a Beatles fan for quite a long time. However, he was angered by Lennon’s flashy lifestyle and wealth, as well as his infamous statement that the band was “more popular than Jesus”. Chapman also said that he admired the main character of The Catcher In The Rye, Holden Caulfield, and wished to emulate the character’s life.

John Lennon’s murder still has a profound effect on those Lennon left behind, but it’s worth celebrating the fact that the famed Beatles singer and guitarist got justice in the end.

Photo by Vinnie Zuffante

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