Sunday, May 29, 2011

THIS DAY IN CRIME HISTORY: MAY 29, 1979


On this date in 1979, federal Judge John H. Wood, Jr. was assassinated outside his home in San Antonio, TX. Wood, who was nicknamed "Maximum John" due to the harsh sentences he handed out for drug offenses, was the first federal judge assassinated in the 20th century.

An anonymous tip led police to ex-convict Charles Harrelson, father of actor Woody Harrelson. Harrelson had been hired to kill Wood by drug dealer Jamiel Chagra, who was due to be appear before Judge Wood in a narcotics case.

At trial, Harrelson claimed he hadn't killed Judge Wood, but had taken credit for it in order to collect money from Chagra. The jury didn't buy it, and Harrelson was convicted of murder. He was sentenced to two life terms and died of a heart attack in the federal supermax prison in Colorado in 2007.

Chagra's brother Joe received a 10 year sentence for his role in arranging the hit. Chagra's wife also received a prison sentence for her role delivering the payout money. Jamiel Chagra, who was represented by attorney Oscar Goodman (the current mayor of Las Vegas), was acquitted when his brother refused to testify against him. Chagra would later stipulate to his role in the murder in a plea bargain designed to get his wife, who was suffering from ovarian cancer, an early release from prison. His wife passed away before she could be released.

Jamiel Chagra himself would eventually wind up in federal witness protection. He died of cancer in 2008, at the age of 63.

Further reading:

Wikipedia - Charles Harrelson

Wikipedia - Jamiel Chagra

Denver Post - Harrelson wrote of life at Supermax

10 comments:

LC Aggie Sith said...

I lived right across from the Judge's former secretary. She was a very loyal employee. Always took him flowers to his grave every May. She never talked about it, except to say that his death "harmed the Earth".

John D. said...

Aggie,
His death was also the first of three federal judicial assassinations that would take place over the next decade. I believe that one was in NY, the other in AL.

Charlieopera said...

There was a judge in Pennsylvania (I believe) involved in taking kickbacks to put juveniles away (he was getting greaesd from the private firm that ran the juvie center) would be a good candidate for a judge to whack, although a bullet might be too good for him. At least one of the kids who went through that meatgrinder (the juvie center) killed himself afterward. These kids were being sentenced for months at a time for the smallest infractions. The longer the kids stayed in juvie center, the more this judge was paid in kickbacks. Hopefully, one of the kids will someday visit said judge after he beats the case (which you know he will or he'll get some bullshit sentence himself) ... they'll visit him, tie his legs to the back of a 4x4 bumper and drag his ass over a few dozen miles of asphalt ... let him know what it's like to be burned.

John D. said...

Charlie,
That guy sounds like a real winner. Sadly, judges are the hardest public officials to hold responsible for their misconduct.

LC Aggie Sith said...

I remember that, Charlie. Burns me up to think that fucktardic excuse for pig offal will get leniency.

John D said...

...that fucktardic excuse for pig offal...

You certainly have a way with words, Aggie. :)

LC Aggie Sith said...

It's a gift, not a curse, John ;)

Bob G. said...

John D.:
Sure glad that wasn;'t the SAME Charles Harrelson that was alleged to be one of the "bums" behind that grassy knoll in Dallas back in '63...
(or was he?)

Good story.

Roll safe out there.

John D. said...

Bob,
Now that you mention it, that was him. I've never believed that theory though. As far as I'm concerned, LHO acted alone, end of story.

Randy said...

And the creepy Secretary of Homeland Security, JNap, gave Woody Harrelson a guided tour of Border Patrol headquarters in DC. A slap in the face to all Law Enforcement.