Chapman, who had been charged with Second Degree Murder, initially plead not guilty by reason of insanity in January 1981. Chapman told his attorney, Jonathan Marks, to drop the defence of insanity. Marks was not convinced of Chapman's sanity, and ability to make such a decision, and requested an additional determination of Chapman's competence to make such a decision. Judge Dennis Edwards denied Marks's request for the further assessment, and declared Chapman competent to plead guilty.
On August 24th, 1981, a sentencing hearing was held.