There’s a new three-part documentary on Apple TV, John Lennon: Murder Without A Trial. I watched it so you don’t have to, but if you do, it’s best to only watch the first 37-minute episode.
The first episode is titled The Last Day. It focuses on John Lennon’s activities on December 8th, 1980, before he was shot in cold blood outside his home in New York City. You also see news coverage and reactions from John Lennon’s fans. If you were old enough to be aware at the time, you might have found out about Lennon’s death on Monday Night Football, like so many of us did. You probably also remember much of the TV coverage of the crowds that gathered outside the Dakota Apartments and in Central Park.
Parts 2 and 3 are best skipped. They’re about John Lennon’s killer. Part 2 is called The Investigation. Well, very little investigation was needed, because the guy that did it remained on the scene until the police arrived. That’s because his admitted reason for the killing was that he wanted to be famous. He even told the cab driver his name as he was dropped off at the Dakota, and said “you’ll remember it”.
The episode wastes time mentioning that the justice department had been following Lennon’s activities, possibly even tapping his phone. This was some half-baked attempt to allude to a conspiracy. But, the surveillance happened under the Nixon administration in the early ‘70’s, when Lennon was protesting against the Vietnam war. Lennon had been out of the public eye for nearly five years, and was a threat to no one.
Part 3 is called The Trial, which is ridiculous, since the title of the documentary tells you there was no trial. The killer pleaded guilty to second degree murder. The debate is whether he was insane or not. It could be argued that any cold-blooded killer is insane, but he pre-planned the murder, and definitely knew what he was doing. He remains in prison, and has been denied parole 12 times.
Above is some “wire copy” from United Press International that I saved. Most of it is from the morning after the murder. At the time, I was the News Director for a couple of radio stations south of Lincoln, Nebraska. One of the stories mentions how London is mad at the United States for having a gun culture that killed John Lennon. The editorial says… “John Lennon’s meaningless murder is increasingly typical of New York and the United States in general, where freedom to carry guns has brought forth monsters.” The monster who killed John Lennon was born in Texas, raised in Georgia, lived in Hawaii, and flew to New York City to commit the murder.
Like most radio stations during the week of December 8th, 1980, we played a lot of music by John Lennon and The Beatles. I also wrote and produced a news special that covered Lennon’s life and career. John had just turned 40 when he was taken from us. As we see Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr still being creative into their 80’s, imagine how much more great art we would have received from John Lennon if he hadn’t been gunned down 43 years ago.