Combing newspaper archives, MendoFever will work hard to provide a MendoThrowback every day of the calendar year to remind residents of days long gone.
The Ukiah Daily Journal‘s Monday, February 6, 1956 edition gave a glimpse into a Mendocino County murder trial born from a domestic argument turned deadly. The jury that would determine whether 29-year-old Willits woman Imogene Yokum murdered her husband was being selected that day.
Yokum reportedly admitted to investigators she shot her 32-year-old husband Donald Yokum one December evening when the couple was drinking with friends and an arguement ensued over religion
The 29-year-old housewife and mother-of-four was said to have grabbed a 30-30 caliber rifle firing one shot which struck her husband in the neck, severed his jugular, and killed him almost instantly. This crime reportedly occurred in front of guests, 40-year-old Vernon Schuster and 38-year-old Marie Lancaster.
Mendocino County Sheriff Reno Bartolomei reportedly said the argument ensued from Yokum wanting her children to attend Sunday school, but her husband objected.
The Ukiah Daily Journal characterized the day of jury selection as a “challenging experience.” Yokum, which the UDJ described as the “dark hair and attractive defendant” sat next to her attorney John Golden.
District Attorney Merle Orchard and Golden spent the day vetting potential jurors in the case. Golden asked questions like: “Do you have any feelings regarding the charge of murder in a trial?”
The jury candidates reportedly represented a cross-section of Mendocino County including “farmers, retired persons, and housewives.”
Fifty spectators were in court that day to hear the “quiet voices of the attorneys” as the jury candidates offered “softly spoken answers.”