Tuesday, September 24, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jurors Told Of Cabbie's Last Look At Life -- Robbery, Then Murder, Prosecution Contends

James Francis Lee was a trusting taxi driver, willing to take his cab into parts of town some other cabbies shun.

Lee's reward for going the extra mile for a fare was a fatal bullet to the head, execution-style, the evening of last March 13.

Lee's last look at life was from the ground at the rear of his Yellow Cab No. 74 on 22nd Avenue between East Spruce and East Alder streets. He died soon after, a King County jury was told yesterday.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Larson yesterday said the alleged triggerman, Omar Hakim Chapman, shot Lee, 29, in the course of a robbery.

Police found three cab doors and the trunk open, the prosecutor said in opening statements of Chapman's first-degree murder trial.

After the 7:30 p.m. murder, Chapman paid $5 to have an acquaintance drive him by the scene, then said, "I've seen enough,' according to the prosecutor.

Defense attorney Terri Ann Pollock said Chapman, armed with a pistol, shot in self-defense after Lee reached toward the inside of the cab trunk.

Chapman arrived in Seattle from Los Angeles three days before the shooting to visit his father.Pollock maintains that Chapman, who was accompanied by a juvenile who had a saw-offed shotgun that night, did not want to be a part of the holdup. The juvenile has not been charged.

Pollock said Lee had handed Chapman the cab money bag. After Chapman thought he was going to be gunned down, he shot, she said. In jail, Chapman became so traumatized that he was placed in the suicide unit, Pollock said.

Chapman told police his age is 21, but homicide Detective E.M. "Sonny" Davis said Chapman, who is the father of an infant child, had his 18th birthday last week.

Chapman was arraigned yesterday by Superior Court Judge R. Joseph Wesley on a drug charge in connection with a 1989 incident.

As Chapman's trial continued today before Wesley, prosecutors were deciding whether to file a robbery charge against a man who tried to rob another cabbie, Robbi Lambert, last week when Lambert went to pick up the man at an apartment building at 1730 N.W. 56th St. Lambert fired six rounds, hitting the man three times.

Police said they believe Lambert fired in self-defense.

Police still are investigating the fatal shooting of another cabbie, Don Kelly, last July near Denny Park east of the Seattle Center.

His body was found about 16 hours later slumped in the front seat of his cab, with its engine idling, in a parking lot.

-- Times staff reporter Dave Birkland contributed to this story.

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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