In the summer of 1898 Claude Branton and Courtland Green were helping a man named John Linn drive some stock from Sisters, Oregon. On the evening of June 15, 1898, while the party was camped at Alder Springs, Branton shot and killed Linn with a revolver for a large sum of money Linn was thought to have. After Linn was killed Branton buried him and a fire was built over his grave. As they sat by the fire, one of the assassins performed on the Jew's harp while the other furnished vocal music. They were captured and Branton's accomplice Green received life imprisonment for the robbery/murder after turning states evidence. On November 4, 1898 Branton was sentenced to death by hanging and his execution took place on May 12, 1899. The hanging took place in Eugene Oregon, within a temporary stockade built outside of the Lane County Courthouse to conceal the hanging from those without invitations. Sheriff William Withers pulled the lever on the gallows that sent Branton through the trap to eternity only six days after his 24th birthday.
Branton was the first man to be executed by hanging in Lane County, Oregon.