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Charles Harrelson Trial: 1982-83

Chagra Testifies For Prosecution

When the murder trial got underway in San Antonio, in exchange for a guilty plea to commit conspiracy to murder and a sentence of 10 years, Joseph Chagra testified against Harrelson, who he claimed was the hit man. Joseph testified as well against his own sister-in-law Elizabeth Chagra, and Harrelson's wife, Jo Ann. Joseph Chagra refused to testify against his own brother Jamiel (Jimmy), however. In addition to the testimony of Joseph Chagra, the government had evidence drawn from more than 1,000 recorded telephone and face-to-face conversations, most of them involving Jamiel Chagra in various prisons. Tapes of Jerry Ray James' extensive conversations with Jamiel spelled out details of the plot to kill the judge. Federal authorities claimed that attorney-client privileges did not protect conversations between Joseph and Jamiel Chagra, because Joseph (the attorney) was himself a suspect in the conspiracy to conceal the crime.

The prosecution charged that Harrelson, who had earlier served five years before being paroled of a 15-year sentence for killing a man for a $2,000 fee, killed Judge Wood in exchange for a promised $250,000 payment by Jamiel Chagra.

Kathryn Wood, the widow of the slain judge, provided a five-page handwritten letter from Elizabeth Chagra, apologizing for her involvement in the murder. In the letter, Elizabeth relayed conversations about plans to kill Wood and told of her own delivery of the payoff money to Las Vegas.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Charles Harrelson Trial: 1982-83 - Chagra Testifies For Prosecution, Harrelson Alleges Complicated Set-up, Verdicts And Convictions, Harrelson's Son Funds Appeal