Conley Tale Is Hope of Defense

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

The Atlanta Georgian

Monday, June 30, 1913


* This headline appeared on Page 3 of the Georgian.

Expect to Prove Frank Innocent By Discrediting Negro’s Story Of Phagan Crime.

Warned that the State is basing practically all of its expectations of sending Leo M. Frank to the gallows on the dramatic story told by Jim Conley, the defense this week is completing the collection of a strong line of evidence with which it is planned utterly to discredit the negro’s statements and his testimony in court.

Conley again has insisted on confronting Frank. He says he is certain if he can meet the factory superintendent face to face he can make him “tell the whole story.” The negro has told the detectives he not only is willing, but is eager to repeat in the presence of Frank the story of the disposal of Mary Phagan’s body just as he has related it a dozen times since he first made the sensational acknowledgment that he had a part in the crime.

It is regarded as most unlikely that the two will be brought together. Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Frank, has refused to make any definite statement of his attitude in the matter, but it is known he looks with suspicion on every word and every act of the negro. He has given the impression that he is not unwilling for his client to face the negro, but that he regards the court room as the proper place for the meeting and the actual trial of Frank as the proper time. For this reason, the dramatic moment when accuser and accused confront each other in all probability will be saved for the time when the legal battle is in progress for Frank’s life.

Attack Planned on Negro.

At this time, it is the intention of the defense to begin with the first statements by which Conley connected himself with the case after he had remained silent for two weeks following his arrest. Frank’s lawyers will take the separate details of the negro’s affidavits, one by one, and seek to show that in the light of probabilities they are utterly absurd and ridiculous.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the fact that the negro has lied deliberately many times in the stories he has told of his connection with the crime. The defense will take the position that it is most unreasonable for the State, after the negro has made two affidavits admittedly perjuries, to base its case on a third affidavit which it holds is absolutely true.

In the firm belief that Conley’s renewed demand to be brought face to face with Frank is a mere subterfuge by which the negro is seeking to shift the blame for the crime, Attorney Rosser is expected to give him a most merciless grilling when he is called to the witness stand by the State. The defense makes no secret of its expectation of breaking down the negro’s tale. An open court confession would not surprise them, they say.

Believes Conley Won’t Break.

Solicitor Dorsey and his associate in the prosecution, Frank A. Hooper, ridicule the possibility that the negro will make a confession on the witness stand. Mr. Hooper said Monday morning that he believed the negro would make an excellent witness, probably the most valuable one the State would call. He did not believe that Conley would break down under the fire of questions from Attorney Rosser and Reuben Arnold, both of whom have a wide reputation for the raking cross-examination to which they can subject a person in the witness chair.

“I haven’t any thought that Conley will falter,” said Mr. Hooper. “He has told me a clear, straightforward story. The details are fresh in his mind. He can not be confused and the court, of course, will not permit him to be intimidated should there be any effort of the sort on the part of the cross-examiners, which I do not anticipate.”

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The Atlanta Georgian, June 30th 1913, “Conley Tale Is Hope of Defense,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)