The Justice Files: 1995 killer seeks freedom

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Jimmy Harker is a changed man.

He is no longer a hard drinker and drug user.  That’s what 24-years in prison will do to a person.

Harker was sent there in 1996 for the murder of Brent Winters and nearly killing his former girlfriend.

In September 1995, Harker stormed into a camper trailer owned by Winters and found the two of them together.

According to court records, Harker and Winters went outside where he fired twice killing his one-time friend.

“That was an impulse thing,” Harker said during a recent parole hearing. “That just happened. I just got out of jail and caught my wife to be with a good friend of mine and I don’t know. I just lost it.”

Harker then went inside the camper trailer and shot Tracy Anderson in the head. Harker left thinking she was dead but she managed to survive and called 911. He was sentenced to two terms of five-years-to-life. But in 2020 he is now eligible for parole and made his first appearance before a hearing officer with the Utah Board of Pardons. 

“I would do anything in the world to be able to turn back time and change the events that happened that night,” Harker said.

But he can’t. Among those listening and participating at his parole hearing was Anderson. She pleaded that Harker remains in prison and said she still re-lives that night.

“What I do remember was Jimmy telling me that he was going to kill me and how his hand felt getting into my hair pulling it out by the roots as I screamed and struggled to escape,” she testified.

Anderson was linked to the hearing through a video conference. Harker made his appearance also through a video link.

“I can assure you that the events of Sept the 14th,  the night was pretty traumatic and a whole lifetime ago,” he said. “I am not the same person I was 25 years ago.”

Harker blamed his behavior on bad habits, including drinking, drugs, and jealousy. He said he’s taken anger management courses and other life skill programs offered at the prison. He claimed the desire to become a productive citizen and hoped to move to Arizona to be with his ailing father should he be paroled.

Brent Winters left behind two sons.  Both have lived more than half their lives without a father.  Jared Winters is the oldest and said his dad’s murder at the hands of Harker shattered his life.

“It’s hard being 19-years old and not having your role model,” Winters said. “He says he wants to go stay with his dad who is on his death bed.  “I’m never going to see my dad again. Why should he be given that opportunity when I can never see my dad ever again.”

Anderson said Harker’s remorse is phony and reminded the hearing officer that he’s known to make threats even behind bars. It’s something that she still fears. She has since moved, remains, and will not make herself available in public.

“I implore you to keep my most important lifeline,” Anderson said. “Please keep him incarcerated and away from me.”

Harker claimed he has a relatively clean recording during his 24-years in prison. He was recently caught keeping someone else’s urine in storage to pass drug tests at the prison. He also clashed with a prison guard. Those are his only two blemishes during his time behind bars.

“I’d give anything for one chance,” he said to the hearing officer. “That’s all I ask. And if there are any families of the victims, they have nothing to worry about. I can assure you.”

His former girlfriend said two lives were lost that night in 1995, Brent Winters and herself.  Anderson said she’s never been the same after Harker shot the both of them.

The board of pardons will soon decide if Harker should be paroled from prison.

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