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Charles Harrelson mug shot, May 1960
BornJuly 23, 1938(1938-07-23)
Huntsville, Texas, U.S.DiedMarch 15, 2007 (aged 68)
ADMAX Florence, Colorado, USAOccupationHitman, CriminalSpouseNancy Hillman HarrelsonParentsVoyde Harrelson and Alma HarrelsonChildrenActor Woody HarrelsonCharles Voyde Harrelson (July 23, 1938 – March 15, 2007) was an American freelance hitman connected with organized crime and was convicted of assassinating a federal judge. He was the father of actor Woody Harrelson.
Murder of Judge Wood
Harrelson was sentenced to two life terms for the May 29, 1979, assassination of U.S. District Judge John H. Wood, Jr. Harrelson reportedly shot and killed Wood in the parking lot outside of Wood's San Antonio, Texas, house for a drug dealer out of El Paso, Jamiel Chagra. Wood — nicknamed "Maximum John" because of his reputation for handing down long sentences for drug offenses — was to have Chagra appear before him on the day of his murder.
Harrelson was apprehended with the aid of an anonymous tip and a taped conversation between Jimmy (Jamiel) and his brother, Joe Chagra. He claimed at trial that he did not kill Wood, but merely took credit for it so he could score a huge payout from Chagra.
Harrelson was eventually convicted based largely on Chagra's conversation with his brother who was visiting him in prison. Both Harrelson and Chagra's brother Joe were implicated in the assassination. Harrelson was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Joe 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 current mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman. In a plea bargain, Chagra admitted to his role in the murder of Judge Wood and the attempted murder of a U.S. Attorney.
After his release in 2003, Jimmy Chagra claimed that Harrelson did not murder Judge Wood. While he did not identify the real killer, Chagra indicated that he or she was long deceased. Jamiel and Joe Chagra allegedly misled federal officials by talking about hiring Harrelson to kill Judge Wood when they knew they were being illegally taped during a legal visit in the prison because Harrelson had been blackmailing Joe Chagra with information he did have about the murder of the judge.
Prior to the Wood murder, Harrelson was tried for the 1968 killing of Hearne, Texas grain dealer Sam Degelia in Edinburg, Texas. Harrelson's attorney was Percy Foreman, who had been counsel for convicted Martin Luther King assassin James Earl Ray. Foreman produced a surprise witness: a nightclub singer who claimed that she had been with Harrelson at the time of the murder. The trial ended in a hung jury: 11 for conviction, one for acquittal.
Harrelson was retried in 1974 in Brownsville, Texas. Texas Ranger Jack Dean, the lead investigator on the Degelia case, was in the courtroom with a perjury arrest warrant for the nightclub singer. But she had learned of it and fled to Aruba. Without the help of her testimony, Harrelson was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison. With time off for good behavior, he was free in five years.
Harrelson declared that he was involved in John F. Kennedy's assassination. 
Escape attempt and death
After attempting to escape from the Atlanta federal penitentiary in 1996, Harrelson was transferred to Supermax prison ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado. He was found unresponsive in his cell on March 15, 2007, having apparently died of natural causes. Woody Harrelson had attempted to have his father's conviction overturned and secure a new trial, to no avail.