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Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Harrelson supports father's trial battle
Woody Harrelson
Harrelson does not believe his father received a fair trial
Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson lent his support to his father in court on Monday as he attempted to have his conviction for murder overturned.

The former Cheers star sat in the Denver courtroom as Charles Harrelson urged the judge to order a new trial that could overturn his 1982 conviction for the contract killing of a federal judge.

Harrelson is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for the murder in 1979 of US District Judge John Wood Jr in San Antonio, Texas.

He argues that he deserves a new trial because his defence at the time was inadequate and that prosecutors did not disclose information that might have helped him.

Cheers poster
Harrelson became a household name as a star of Cheers

His 38-year-old son, who portrayed a bartender in the hit TV sitcom Cheers and has starred in films such as The People Vs Larry Flint, declined to comment on his father's case.

This week's hearing is a continuation of a 1998 court proceeding that was stopped when the presiding judge revealed he was friendly with the actor.

The judge said there could be a perceived conflict of interest in his involvement in the case as he had played pick-up basketball with the Cheers star.

Crime scene

Although the actor declined to comment on Monday's proceedings, he told reporters in 1998 that he did not believe his father had received a fair trial.

His father was convicted of shooting and killing the judge on a $250,000 (167,000) contract from a drug dealer facing trial in the judge's court.

At this week's hearing, Harrelson sat with his brother Brett, 37.

They heard their father testify that "virtually no effort was made by the defence to substantiate my claims" that he was 250 miles away in Dallas at the time of the murder.

Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas
Harrelson squares up to Antonio Banderas in the forthcoming Play It To The Bone

At one point he apologised to US District Judge Orlando Garcia for going on at length.

Garcia however excused him saying: "We're talking abut your freedom, so you need not apologise" - at which the two Harrelson sons nodded.

The Denver hearing is expected to last two or three days.

The case will then return to San Antonio before Garcia makes a decision on Harrelson's appeal .

See also:

13 Jun 98 | Entertainment
Cheers! But pay up ...
24 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Harrelson's hemp crusade
08 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Director faces lawsuit over violent movie
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