Behind the bleak concrete walls of California's San Quentin state prison, a Death Row guard handed a brief note, signed by the warden, to the pale, heavy-browed prisoner in Cell 2455. "Dear Sir," it began.
"On this date I received Death Warrant in your case . . ." The presiding Superior Court judge, the note went on, had set the date for the prisoner's execution, a date seven weeks away: March 28, 1952.
But Death Row Prisoner Caryl Chessman still had a lot of life ahead of him. In the eight...