John Lennon's killer could recall at his parole board hearing this month that he had considered shooting Johnny Carson or Elizabeth Taylor instead, but he couldn't remember that he also thought about targeting Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and others.
The Sept. 7 interview at Attica prison in western New York, transcripts of which were released Thursday, was 55-year-old Mark David Chapman's sixth appearance before parole officials since he became eligible for release in 2000.
In rare media interviews, Chapman has listed Onassis among potential targets but said in the parole interview he could recall only Carson and Taylor.
"I was going through that in my mind the other day; I knew you would probably ask that," he told the panel via videoconference. "... I lose memory of perhaps the other two."
Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison after firing five shots outside the Dakota apartment house on Dec. 8, 1980, hitting Lennon four times in front of his wife, Yoko Ono, and others. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
As he has said in the past, he told officials he chose Lennon because the ex-Beatle was more accessible.
"I had a list of people and he was at the top of the list, and he seemed more accessible to me," he said when asked why he chose Lennon. He said Lennon's Manhattan apartment building "wasn't quite as cloistered" as spots where he could find the others.
"It wasn't about them, necessarily, it was just about me," Chapman told the parole board. "It was all about me at the time."
He continued: "If it wasn't Lennon, it could have been someone else."
According to an interview printed in People magazine in 1987, other potential targets included Lennon's former bandmate Paul McCartney, actor George C. Scott, then-Hawaii Gov. George Ariyoshi and then-President Ronald Reagan.
He said that his motivation was instant notoriety but that he now realizes he "made a horrible decision to end another human being's life for reasons of selfishness."
"I felt that by killing John Lennon I would become somebody and instead of that I became a murderer and murderers are not somebodies," he told the parole board.
Chapman also told the board he is in good health and works as a porter and a law library clerk.