Charles Harrelson mug shot, May 1960
Charles Voyde Harrelson
July 23, 1938
Lovelady, Texas, U.S.
|Died||March 15, 2007 68) (aged|
|Parent(s)||Voyde and Alma Harrelson|
|Penalty||1960: 5 years (served months) |
1973: 15 years (served 5)
1979: 2 life sentences
Charles Voyde Harrelson (July 23, 1938 – March 15, 2007)was an American organized crime figure who was convicted of assassinating federal judge John H. Wood Jr., the first federal judge to have been killed in the 20th century. He was the estranged father of actor Woody Harrelson.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals who intend to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist groups, are politically motivated. Sometimes criminal organizations force people to do business with them, such as when a gang extorts money from shopkeepers for "protection". Gangs may become disciplined enough to be considered organized. A criminal organization or gang can also be referred to as a mafia, mob, or crime syndicate; the network, subculture and community of criminals may be referred to as the underworld. European sociologists define the mafia as a type of organized crime group that specializes in the supply of extra-legal protection and quasi law enforcement. Gambetta's classic work on the Sicilian Mafia generates an economic study of the mafia, which exerts great influence on studies of the Russian Mafia, the Chinese Mafia, Hong Kong Triads and the Japanese Yakuza.
John Howland Wood Jr. was an American lawyer and judge from Texas. He served as a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas before being assassinated by Charles Harrelson outside Wood's home in San Antonio, in 1979. Wood's killing was the first assassination of a federal judge in the 20th century.
Charles Harrelson was born on July 23, 1938, in Lovelady, Texas,the son of Alma Lee (née Sparks) (1907-2002) and Voyde Harrelson (1901-1976). He was married to Nancy Hillman Harrelson, Diane Lou Oswald, Jo Ann Harrelson and Gina Adelle Foster. Harrelson worked as an encyclopedia salesman in California and as a professional gambler. In 1960, he was convicted of armed robbery.
Lovelady is a city in Houston County, Texas, United States. The population was 649 at the 2010 census.
Harrelson's son, Woody Harrelson (born July 23, 1961), became a well-known television and film actor. According to Woody, his father disappeared from the family's home in Houston in 1968, leaving his wife Diane to raise Woody and his two brothers. Woody lost track of his father until 1981, when news broke of Harrelson's arrest for the murder of Judge Wood. During an interview in November 1988, Woody revealed that he visited his father regularly in federal prison, though he still harbored mixed feelings for him, saying "my father is one of the most articulate, well-read, charming people I've ever known. Still, I'm just now gauging whether he merits my loyalty or friendship. I look at him as someone who could be a friend more than someone who was a father."
Woodrow Tracy Harrelson is an American actor, comedian and playwright. His breakout role came in 1985 as bartender Woody Boyd in the television sitcom Cheers. He later became known for his portrayals of Billy Hoyle in White Men Can't Jump (1992), Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killers (1994), and Larry Flynt in The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). More recent roles include Tallahassee in Zombieland (2009), Capt. Tony Stone in The Messenger (2009), Dave Brown in Rampart (2011), Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games film series (2012–2015), Merritt McKinney in the Now You See Me film series (2013–2016), the Colonel in War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), Bill Willoughby in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), and Tobias Beckett in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).
Defended by Percy Foreman, Harrelson was tried for the 28 May 1968murder of Alan Harry Berg (no relation to the Denver talk radio DJ Alan Berg, later murdered by white supremacists). On September 22, 1970, he was acquitted by a jury in Angleton, Texas. The murder is chronicled in the memoir Run Brother Run by the victim's brother, David Berg.
Percy Eugene Foreman was a criminal defense attorney from Houston, Texas. Foreman was born near Bold Springs, Texas. Foreman moved to Livingston, Texas when he was six years old. He was the son of Ransom Parson Hill Foreman and William Pinckney (Rogers) Foreman, a former sheriff of Polk County, Texas. Percy Foreman attended Staunton Military Academy in Virginia for one year, graduated from the University of Texas Law School in 1927, and was admitted to the Texas Bar on January 17, 1928. He went on to become one of the best known trial lawyers in Texas, with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association creating the Percy Foreman Lawyer of the Year Award in 1984.
Alan Harrison Berg was a Jewish American attorney and talk radio show host in Denver, Colorado. Berg was known for his liberal, outspoken viewpoints and confrontational interview style. On June 18, 1984, Berg was fatally shot by members of the white nationalist group The Order. Those involved in the killing were identified as part of a group planning to kill prominent Jews. Two of them, David Lane and Bruce Pierce, were convicted on charges of civil rights violations, although neither was charged with homicide. They were sentenced to 190 years and 252 years in prison, respectively.
Angleton is a city in and the county seat of Brazoria County, Texas, United States, within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. Angleton lies at the intersection of State Highway 288, State Highway 35, and the Union Pacific Railroad. The population was 18,862 at the 2010 census. Angleton is in the 14th congressional district, and is represented by Republican Congressman Randy Weber.
Harrelson was tried for the 1968 murder-for-hire killing of Sam Degelia Jr., a resident of Hearne, Texas. Harrelson was paid $2000 ($14,100 today) for the murder of Degelia, a grain dealer and father of four who was killed in McAllen, Texas. His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury, although Pete Scamardo was also tried in the case, found guilty of being an accomplice to the murder, and sentenced to seven years probation. Harrelson was retried in 1973, convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 1978, after serving 5 years, he was released early for good behavior.
Hearne is a city in Robertson County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 4,459. The city is named for a family that settled in the area in the 19th century and promoted the construction of rail lines through the city.
McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States, and the 22nd-most populous city in Texas. It is located at the southern tip of the state in the Rio Grande Valley. The city limits extend south to the Rio Grande, across from the Mexican city of Reynosa, and McAllen is about 70 mi (110 km) west of the Gulf of Mexico. As of 2017, McAllen’s population was estimated to be 142,696. It is the fifth-most populous metropolitan area in the state of Texas, and the binational Reynosa–McAllen metropolitan area counts a population of nearly 1.52 million.
Shortly after Harrelson was paroled in 1978, he and his then-wife, Jo Ann, were implicated in another murder. On May 29, 1979, U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr. was shot dead in the parking lot outside his San Antonio, Texas, townhouse.Harrelson was convicted of killing Judge Wood after being hired by drug dealer Jamiel Chagra of El Paso. Wood – nicknamed "Maximum John" because of his reputation for handing down long sentences for drug offenses – was originally scheduled to have Chagra appear before him on the day of his murder, but the trial had been delayed.
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States district court. Each federal judicial district has at least one courthouse, and many districts have more than one. The formal name of a district court is "the United States District Court for" the name of the district—for example, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
Jamiel "Jimmy" Alexander Chagra was an American drug trafficker. He was implicated in the May 1979 assassination of United States District Judge John H. Wood Jr. in San Antonio, Texas.
El Paso is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, in the far western part of the state. The 2017 population estimate for the city from the U.S. Census was 683,577. Its metropolitan statistical area (MSA) covers all of El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas, and has a population of 844,818.
Harrelson was apprehended with the aid of an anonymous tip and a tape recording of a conversation that occurred during a visit from Joe Chagra to his brother Jamiel Chagra in prison. Harrelson claimed at trial that he did not kill Judge Wood, but merely took credit for it so he could claim a large payment from Chagra.
Harrelson was sentenced to two life terms based largely on Chagra's conversation with his brother from prison. Both Harrelson and Joe Chagra were implicated in the assassination, and Chagra received a ten-year sentence. Jamiel Chagra was acquitted of the murder when his brother Joe refused to testify against him. Chagra was represented by future mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, then a public defender. In a plea bargain, Jamiel Chagra admitted to his role in the murder of Judge Wood and to the attempted murder of a U.S. Attorney. Harrelson's wife, Jo Ann, was sentenced to consecutive terms of 20 years total on multiple convictions of conspiracy and perjury related to the assassination.
In 2003, Chagra recanted his previous statements, stating that someone other than Harrelson had in fact shot Judge Wood.His son, Woody, then attempted to have his father's conviction overturned in order to secure a new trial, though without success. Chagra died in July 2008 of cancer.
In September 1980, Harrelson surrendered to police after a six-hour standoff in which he was reportedly high on cocaine.During the standoff, he threatened suicide, stating that he had killed both Judge Wood and President John F. Kennedy. In a television interview after his arrest, Harrelson said: "At the same time I said I had killed the judge, I said I had killed Kennedy, which might give you an idea to the state of my mind at the time." He said that the statements made during the standoff were "an effort to elongate my life."
Joseph Chagra later testified during Harrelson's trial that Harrelson claimed to have shot Kennedy and drew maps to show where he was hiding during the assassination. Chagra said that he did not believe Harrelson's claim, and the AP reported that the FBI "apparently discounted any involvement by Harrelson in the Kennedy assassination."According to Jim Marrs in 1989's Crossfire, Harrelson is believed to be the youngest and tallest of the "three tramps" by many conspiracy theorists. Marrs stated that Harrelson was involved "with criminals connected to intelligence agencies and the military" and suggested that he was connected to Jack Ruby through Russell Douglas Matthews, a third party with links to organized crime who was known to both Harrelson and Ruby. Lois Gibson, a well-known forensic artist, matched photographs of Harrelson to the photographs of the youngest-looking of the three "tramps".
On July 4, 1995, Harrelson and two other inmates, Gary Settle and Michael Rivers, attempted to escape from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary using a makeshift rope. A warning shot was fired at them from the prison's tower, and the trio surrendered.Harrelson was subsequently transferred to Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado. In a letter to a friend, Harrelson wrote that he enjoyed his life inside the maximum security facility, writing that "there are not enough hours in a day for my needs as a matter of fact... The silence is wonderful."
He was found unresponsive in his cell on March 15, 2007, having died of a heart attack; and an autopsy showed he had severe coronary artery disease.His Federal Bureau of Prisons Register number was 02582-016.
Contract killing is a form of murder in which one party hires another party to kill a target individual or group of people. It involves an illegal agreement between two or more parties in which one party agrees to kill the target in exchange for some form of payment, monetary or otherwise. Either party may be a person, group, or an organization. In the United States, the crime is punishable by 15 years to life in a state penitentiary. Contract killing has been associated with organized crime, government conspiracies, and vendettas. For example, in the United States, the gang Murder, Inc. committed hundreds of murders on behalf of the National Crime Syndicate during the 1930s and 1940s.
Yigal Amir is an Israeli who assassinated Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin. The assassination took place on November 4, 1995, at the conclusion of a rally in Tel Aviv, Israel. Amir is serving a life sentence for murder plus six years for injuring Rabin's bodyguard, Yoram Rubin, under aggravating circumstances. He was later sentenced to an additional eight years for conspiracy to murder.
Matricide is the act of killing one's mother.
Carlos Marcello, also known as The Godfather and "The Little Man", was a powerful Italian-American mafioso who ruled the New Orleans crime family from 1947 until the late 1980s. G. Robert Blakey and other conspiracy theorists have asserted that Marcello along with Santo Trafficante, Jr. and Sam Giancana masterminded the 1963 assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy in retaliation for federal prosecution that threatened their secret criminal organization's increasingly profitable businesses and their multibillion-dollar international organized crime empires.
The 1985 Rajneeshee assassination plot was a conspiracy by a group of high-ranking Rajneeshees, followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, to assassinate Charles Turner, the then-United States Attorney for the District of Oregon. Rajneesh's personal secretary and second-in-command, Ma Anand Sheela, assembled the group after Turner was appointed to investigate illegal activity at the followers' community, Rajneeshpuram. Turner investigated charges of immigration fraud and sham marriages, and later headed the federal prosecution of the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack in The Dalles, Oregon.
Jeffery Lee Wood was scheduled to be executed by the state of Texas on August 24, 2016, before a stay was issued by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. As in the case of Kenneth Foster, Wood's death sentence stems from the Texas law of parties, which is related to the felony murder rule.
The Barack Obama assassination plot in Tennessee was a plot by Paul Schlesselman and Daniel Cowart to assassinate Barack Obama, who was then the 2008 Democratic Party presidential nominee. The two men, both Neo-Nazis, spoke of killing Obama during a planned murder spree of 88 African Americans in Tennessee, many of whom were young students at an unidentified, predominantly black school.
Sirhan Bishara Sirhan is a Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship who shot United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968; Kennedy died the following day. Sirhan was convicted of murder and is serving a life sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, California.
Martin Luther King Jr., an American clergyman and civil rights leader, was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 at 6:01 p.m. CST. He was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died at 7:05 p.m. He was a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was known for his use of nonviolence and civil disobedience.
Robert Smith Vance Sr. was a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and later the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. He was one of three 20th century United States federal court judges assassinated because of his judicial service.
Joseph Alphonse Persico, known as Little Allie Boy or just Allie Boy, is a former acting boss of the Colombo crime family from the 1980s and 1990s. He is not to be confused with his uncle of the same name, who was also a Colombo family mobster known as "Allie Boy", who died in 1989.
Milorad "Legija" Ulemek, also known as Milorad Luković is a former commander of the Serbian secret police special unit, the Special Operations Unit (JSO) and a former paramilitary commander, who was convicted of the assassinations of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić and former Serbian President Ivan Stambolić. He was also convicted of conspiracy in the attempted murder of Serbian opposition leader Vuk Drašković.
The assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 has spurred numerous conspiracy theories, which include accusations of involvement of the CIA, the Mafia, sitting Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, the KGB, or even some combination thereof. Some conspiracy theories further claim that the US federal government covered up crucial information in the aftermath of the assassination, which turned out to be true regarding the CIA-Mafia plots to kill Fidel Castro. Former Los Angeles District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi estimated that a total of 42 groups, 82 assassins, and 214 people had been accused at one time or another in various conspiracy scenarios.
Brett V. Harrelson is an American actor.
The three tramps are three men photographed by several Dallas-area newspapers under police escort near the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Since the mid-1960s, various allegations have been made about the identities of the men and their involvement in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Records released by the Dallas Police Department in 1989 identified the men as Gus Abrams, Harold Doyle, and John Gedney.