Today there are more than 700 men and women on death row in California. The average wait for an execution is well over 20 years. While some oppose capital punishment, many in this state decry the delays in executions brought on by appeals of various sorts.
For those who think the wheels of justice might be grinding too slowly, a look at Madera’s past might send them longing for the “good old days” when justice was meted out at a furious and unforgiving pace. One has only to look at the 1920s for proof.
On Nov. 10, 1923, Walter Yeager shot and killed Madera motorcycle cop Clarence Pickett. He was arrested the next day and then arraigned on Nov. 24, 1923. Yeager’s trial began on Dec. 4 and ended on Dec. 13 with a guilty verdict.
On Dec. 17, 1923, Madera County Superior Court Judge Stanley Murray decreed, “It is ordered that you be delivered to the warden at San Quentin Prison within 10 days and that you suffer the penalty of death, and may God have mercy on your soul.” On Dec. 27, Sheriff John Barnett and Undersheriff Clarence Osborn escorted the condemned man to San Quentin where he was hanged on Jan. 9, 1925, just 12 months and 23 days after he had been sentenced...