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Back on death row — again

For The Madera Tribune

Alvin McSwain is shown here in 1951. He was put on leave from the Navy to testify in the second murder trial of Rayna Carmen.


When Rayna Tom Carmen was brought into the Madera County Courthouse on Oct. 1, 1951, to stand trial for the second time for the murder of Wilbur McSwain, he saw someone he was not expecting to see. There dressed in his U. S. Navy uniform was Alvin McSwain whom Carmen had tried to kill, along with his brother Wilbur, on that tragic April night in 1950.

Alvin had been given leave to testify in the second trial of his brother’s killer — a trial that had been ordered by the California State Supreme Court’s reversal of the first trial on a technicality.

The testimony in the second trial wasn’t much different from that of the first trial. After a quarrel with the McSwains, Carmen took a rifle to their home and waited for them. When they drove up, he let the car to stop, walked up to it, and fired a shot across the front seat, striking Wilbur. He then walked toward the back of the car and fired three shots into the back seat, inflicting three wounds on Alvin. Wilbur died from his wound several hours later.



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