What's most galling about this tragedy is that it could have been avoided if not for a legal technicality.
A man named Ernest Valenzuela had confessed the crime to his attorney—before later dying in a prison fight. The attorney's testimony could have vindicated Macumber. Instead, a judge protected the attorney-client privilege of the dead man and let the innocent man go to jail.
When Macumber came to trial in 1975, Valenzuela's former public defender Thomas O'Toole wrote to the trial judge asking to testify about his now-dead client's confession.
However, Judge Charles Hardy wouldn't allow the confession to be heard.