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'I will never have peace': Woman shot by ex-boyfriend pleads against parole

A Provo man and Utah State Prison inmate who was once facing a potential death sentence for killing a man in Heber City and shooting his ex-girlfriend in the face 27 years ago, is now seeking parole.

A Provo man and Utah State Prison inmate who was once facing a potential death sentence for killing a man in Heber City and shooting his ex-girlfriend in the face 27 years ago, is now seeking parole. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

UTAH STATE PRISON — A Provo man who was once facing the death penalty but was eventually sentenced to two life terms in the Utah State Prison is now seeking parole.

Jimmy Dale Harker, 60, has been incarcerated since his arrest nearly 27 years ago.

But for Tracy Anderson, his former girlfriend whom he shot in the face, time has not healed her wounds.

"Please, do not release him," she implored at Tuesday's hearing before a member of the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. "I will never feel completely safe."

On Sept. 14, 1995, Harker went to a trailer belonging to Gaylon Brent Winters, 40, in the mountains of Lake Creek about six miles east of Heber City, and shot Winters twice outside his trailer, killing him.

Anderson, who had been in a romantic relationship with Winters since breaking up with Harker, hid inside the trailer. Harker then went into the trailer and shot her in the face. Miraculously, she survived.

Harker was originally charged with capital murder and prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty. In a plea bargain, Harker pleaded guilty to murder and aggravated attempted murder and was sentenced to two consecutive terms of up to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

His original parole hearing was held in 2020. During his rehearing on Tuesday, both Anderson and Winters' mother, Maralyn Mecham, addressed the parole board. Each woman was emotional as they pleaded for Harker to serve his entire life sentence.

"He killed someone and he intended to kill me. That should have consequences," Anderson said.

Responding to comments Harker made at his last parole hearing, Anderson said Harker continues to be "dismissive of his actions," even after more than two decades, and "has yet to express any genuine remorse unless it's in the context of blaming someone else."

Even after they broke up, "for what seemed like the 100th time," Harker continued to harass Anderson with "harm and malice," she said. She also said that Harker somehow found her parents' address while in prison and sent them a letter. Because of his actions, she said, "I will never be safe from him.

"Jimmy will be someone who will always cause havoc and destruction."

Anderson said she has spent the past 27 years looking over her shoulder in fear of, "What if?"

"He has forced me to feel as if I live underground," she said.

She pleaded with the parole board to let her keep whatever peace she has left by not releasing Harker.

"There is nothing that can ever condone his actions. No matter what, no matter why. His actions were selfish and destructive," she said. "I will never have peace. Please help me to feel safe."

Mecham then talked about how her son would have turned 67 last month.

"I miss him terribly. I miss our conversations. I miss his teasing, our laughs," she told the board. "Someone told me that time heals all wounds, but I don't agree with that."

Mecham called Harker a selfish person, and said every time she drives by the Point of the Mountain, she wonders if he is thinking about what he did.

"I really want to hate you, but I'm not a person who hates," Mecham said. "I also believe we are all children of our Heavenly Father who loves us."

She said she hopes Harker has taken the past 27 years to learn about Jesus Christ and about humility. But she also does not want Harker to ever be released from prison.

"I think you're a menace to society and I really pity you."

Harker, who had remained stone-faced until that point, was then asked to respond to the women's comments.

"What do you say? I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart and I always will be. It's something I've had to learn to live with," he said while appearing to wipe away tears. "Time don't heal all wounds. ... They're always there."

Harker said he has accepted responsibility "since day one" and has made himself a better person while incarcerated.

"I'm not the same Jimmy Harker today as I was 27 years ago," he said.

The full five-member board will now vote on whether to grant parole. Greg Johnson, who conducted Tuesday's hearing, noted that Harker has completed life skills classes and his disciplinary record has been good since his last parole hearing. However, "Your actions are extreme," he told Harker. "Any time a life is taken, it's so serious."

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Utah police and courtsSummit and Wasatch countiesUtahPolice & CourtsSummit/Wasatch County
Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021 after many years of reporting for the Deseret News


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