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Prosecutor calls I-15 slaying an execution

Prosecutors say the May shooting death of a U.S. Postal Service worker on I-15 looks more like an execution than a crime of passion.

Lee Wayne Parker, sideswiped on his way to work, coasted to a stop and was shot in the elbow, back and head. The last shot was delivered point blank, in what deputy district attorney Robert Stott called a "coup de grace."Jose Garcia Miramontes is charged with capital murder, attempted murder and theft in connection with the May 21 crime. Third District Judge Michael Hutchings could rule next week if there is sufficient evidence for the 21-year-old suspect to stand trial. Miramontes could face the death penalty if convicted.

Witnesses to the 4:20 a.m. crime said Miramontes was a man "on a mission."

Long-haul trucker Pete Ellison testified he was driving northbound on I-15 and approaching 7200 South when a tan car driven by Miramontes crossed three lanes of traffic and smashed into the victim's maroon Buick.

Parker drifted right and stopped, presumably to exchange insurance information.

Miramontes spun a U-turn in the median and drove back - against traffic - past the trucker.

"He was hunched over the steering wheel in a dedicated manner," Ellison testified. "He was on a mission."

Miramontes, according to Ellison, rammed Parker's car a second time.

Right behind Ellison was Lloyd Burress driving another 18-wheeler. He said Miramontes passed him "looking straight ahead, two hands on the wheel, looking as if he knew where he was going."

Burress called 911 on his cellular telephone to report a man driving the wrong way on the freeway.

Midvale resident Jeanie Ison drove up next, entering the 7200 South onramp to see two cars locked nose-to-nose.

As Ison slowed, she said a man exited the car with a handgun and fired four shots into the driver's side window.

Ison slammed on her brakes and stopped about 75 feet away. She saw the suspect bend over and peer into Parker's window. "He looked like he knew where he was going and what he was going to do when he got there," Ison said.

Said prosecutor Stott: "It's clear he came back to execute him, to finish him off."

At that point, Peter Karpakis pulled his pickup truck alongside Parker's car. Parker was slumped over and appeared to be dead, according to Karpakis. Miramontes, still standing by Parker's window, was "angry and upset" and ordered Karpakis to leave.

Karpakis did. But while his truck was still in low gear, Miramontes began firing. Karpakis ducked down and drove blind. One bullet hit the truck's cab.

Karpakis says the suspect chased him for several miles before exiting I-215. Karpakis called police and was held himself as a suspect for several hours.

Back at the scene, police found the victim strapped in his seat belt, the car engine running and his right foot on the brake.

Police say Miramontes ditched his car and stole another. He was arrested three hours later near Fillmore after trying to run a roadblock.

As yet, police have not established a motive for the slaying.