Houston attorney’s book revisits the killing of his brother

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by KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on October 2, 2013 at 10:31 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 2 at 10:40 PM

HOUSTON -- Charles Harrelson was one of the most feared men of his time, a gun for hire with mob ties. In 1979 he shot and killed a federal judge in San Antonio.

Later he became even more famous as the estranged father of well-known actor Woody Harrelson.

But in 1968, Harrelson was arrested for another brutal crime -- the kidnapping and murder of a Houston carpet salesman, named Alan Berg, the brother of attorney David Berg.

"And I can say that I hardly took an unlabored breath,” Berg said. “My father was just torn apart, my mother was … there is no semblance of normal life when someone you love so much is just gone."

Forty-five years later, Berg shares the agonizing details of his brother’s death in his new book, "Run Brother Run," a memoir of a murder in my family. But digging up the past proved painful.

"I received the 14-page typewritten single-space confession of the woman who watched my brother being murdered by Charles Harrelson, and the details were so great that I began to cry and I couldn't stop," berg said.

Investigators said Harrelson used the woman who wrote that confession, to lure Alan Berg to a Houston bar that used to be in the Highland Village area.

Police said Harrelson then drove Berg to a remote area near Surfside and shot him.

Harrelson was hired by a man who had a business dispute with Alan and David's father, according to police.

“I don't blame my father for the murder, but I believe my father pushed my brother in the path of that bullet, by the way he raised him,” Berg said.

David said the boys had an unstable childhood, and his father was especially hard on Alan, who rebelled by gambling and writing bad checks.

When his case went to trial in Angleton, in the fall of 1970, David said the district attorney was steamrolled by Harrelson's attorney, the famous Percy Foreman.

He claimed Foreman used phony eyewitnesses to lie about Harrelson's whereabouts the night of the murder.

Despite testimony from the woman who said she was with Harrelson when he killed Alan Berg, Harrelson was acquitted.

The family was outraged, and to this day David said Harrelson got away with murder. But he said writing the book has helped ease the anger

"I left a lot of memories of Alan and me on those pages, and I left virtually all my anger,” Berg said. “I don't hate the man who had him killed and don't hate the man who killed him."

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