Sunday, July 21, 2024

Willits Mother of Four Stands Trial For Murdering Husband During Argument, Jury Selection Begins —MendoThrowback


Combing newspaper archives, MendoFever will work hard to provide a MendoThrowback every day of the calendar year to remind residents of days long gone. 

29-year-old Imogene Yokum exits a Mendocino County Courthouse elevator accompanied by jail matron Sarah Mason preparing for the opening day of her murder trial. She stands accused of the shooting death of her 32-year-old husband after an argument [Picture from the Monday, February 6, 1956, of the Ukiah Daily Journal]

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.

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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.”

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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