On May 29, 1979, Judge John Wood, known as "Maximum John," is assassinated outside his San Antonio, Texas, home as he bent down to look at a flat tire on his car. Actor Woody Harrelson's father, Charles Harrelson, was charged with the murder after evidence revealed that drug kingpin Jimmy Chagra, whose case was about to come up before "Maximum John," had paid him $250,000 to kill the judge.
Chagra, worried about the sentence that was soon to be imposed by Judge Wood, apparently conspired with his wife and brother to hire Harrelson to carry out the murder. Shattered bullet fragments found at the scene were traced to a .240 Wetherby Mark V rifle, the type recently purchased by Harrelson's wife, Jo Ann. Harrelson, who had a prior conviction for murder in 1968, was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences in prison. Jo Ann, convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice and perjury, was later paroled. Woody Harrelson funded his father's appeals, enlisting the aid of famed attorney Alan Dershowitz. Charles Harrelson died on March 15, 2007, at age 69 of a heart attack in his cell at a federal prison in Colorado.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: