Did You Know Woody Harrelson’s Dad Assassinated a Texas Judge?
Woody Harrelson is quite the accomplished actor. From comedies to action to drama, Woody has quite literally done it all. But his film career isn't even the most fascinating part of Woody's life. His father is. If you didn't know, Woody's father Charles was an infamous Texas hitman and was convicted of assassinating a federal judge in San Antonio, Texas - the first federal judge to be killed in the 20th century. On top of that, the assassination has weird connection to a film Woody eventually starred in.
Who Was Charles Harrelson?
Charles Harrelson, Texas native and Woody Harrelson's father, was known as a professional hitman. He was arrested and charged in the 1968 murder of Alan Harry Berg. However, in 1970, a Angleton, Texas jury acquitted Harrelson.
Then Charles was arrested and charged in the 1968 killing of Sam Degelia Jr in Hearne, Texas. Harrelson was paid $2,000 for the hit. His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury. He was then retried in 1973 and was convicted. Harrelson was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 1978 after 5 years behind bars for 'good behavior'.
The Assassination of Judge John H. Wood
This is Charles Harrelson's most well known crime. Harrelson assassinated U.S. District Judge John H. Wood Jr. Harrelson shot Wood in the parking lot outside of his San Antonio home after being hired by a drug dealer named Jamiel Chagra.
Harrelson claimed that he didn't actually kill the judge, but just claimed that he did so he could get a huge payday from the drug lord. However, taped conversations between Chagra and his brother led to Harrelson being convicted to 2 life sentences in the case. Chagra also testified against Harrelson to get a reduced sentence himself.
However, in 2003, Chagra recanted his previous statements and said that Harrelson did not actually kill Judge Wood. His son Woody footed the legal bills to try and overturn his father's conviction. That effort was unsuccessful.
In an odd turn of events, Woody Harrelson stared in a movie that had a loose connection to this particular case. The book 'No Country for Old Men' featured the line: "Here a while back in San Antonio they shot and killed a federal judge" referencing the assassination of Judge Wood. Of course, Woody starred as a hitman in the film. However, the line was never mentioned in the movie.
Did Charles Harrelson Kill President John F. Kennedy?
During his arrest for the assassination of Judge Wood, Harrelson made some interesting statements to police. During a cocaine fueled 6 hour standoff with police, Harrelson not only claimed to have killed Judge Wood but President John F. Kennedy. Harrelson later stated that the claims were drug fueled bravado.
However, during the trial, Joseph Chagra claimed that Harrelson boasted about being the one to shoot and kill President Kennedy, even drawing maps of where he hid and carried out the assassination. Chagra also testified that he thought Harrelson was lying.
Some Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorist though do give some credence to Harrelson's claims, saying that he was connected to Jack Ruby and other players in Kennedy's murder. He is believed to be one of the "three tramps" photographed at the scene in Dallas.