Defense Will Introduce Witnesses

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

Atlanta Journal
August 3rd, 1913


Indications Saturday, When Court Adjourned Until Monday Morning at 9 o’Clock, Were That State Would Require at Least Two More Days Before Concluding Presentation of Its Case Against the Factory Superintendent


Dr. H. F. Harris Will Take the Stand Again Monday Afternoon and Will Probably Be Under Cross-Examination for Several Hours—Conley Will Be State’s Last Witness, and a Big Battle Will Rage Around His Testimony


Leo M. Frank is apparently standing the strain of the tedious trial remarkably well, and the expression of his face seldom changes during the introduction of evidence. According to his jailers he still sleeps soundly every night, and he has never lost his appetite.

Few people have ever discussed the actual evidence in the case with him, and no expression of an opinion from him about the case, which the state has put up against him, has reached the public.

Frank is quoted as having made only this comment before Saturday’s session started: “It is terrible for an innocent man to be charged with a most damnable crime. Even if he is cleared he can never get over the fact that he was charged and tried for the crime.”

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey admits that he was practically completed his “circumstantial” case against Leo M. Frank, although the state has several witnesses who will be put on the stand this week before the state’s case is concluded.

It is generally believed that the witnesses who form the links of the circumstantial chain have simply paved the way for the testimony of Jim Conley, who claims to be almost an eyewitness to the killing of Mary Phagan for which Frank is being tried.

While Solicitor Dorsey refuses to deny a rumor that the state would not use Conley, the rumor is not credited, and it is generally believed that the dramatic climax of the trial will be the testimony of the negro, and the efforts of the attorneys for the defense to break down Conley’s story that Frank called him to help in disposing of Mary Phagan’s body.

It has been definitely announced that Dr. H. F. Harris, up to the present probably the most important witness, will again take the witness stand at 2 o’clock Monday afternoon.

The direct examination of Dr. Harris, who swore that Mary Phagan met her death within an hour after she ate lunch on April 26, had not been concluded Friday when he collapsed on the witness stand.

When he is cross-examined the attorneys for the defense are certain to make strenuous efforts to weaken his testimony, and his cross-examination will probably take several hours. In other words eliminating Conley, the state can hardly conclude its evidence by Monday.

When Conley goes on the stand he will stay there probably a day, and the result will be that Wednesday will have been reached when the state finishes its case.

The Journal has definitely learned that the defense will introduce testimony to combat the state’s evidence. As a result it appears that it will be the middle of next week or the end of next week before the case of the state against Leo M. Frank goes to the jury.

Although many character witnesses have been summoned, no intimation has been made by the attorneys for the defense as to whether or not they will put the defendant’s character in issue.

While questions to state witnesses have made it appear as if the defense was seeking to show that almost anyone could have committed the crime of which Frank is accused, it is said that when the defendant’s witnesses are put on the stand they will concentrate on Conley, and seek to clear Frank by showing that the negro is guilty.

The battle about Conley is certain to be strenuous one, and Frank A. Hooper, who is assisting Solicitor Dorsey, is authority for the statement that the negro sweeper makes a good witness, who will not be easily cowed.

Conley has been schooled for the grilling which Attorneys Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold will give him by his many “sweatings” at police headquarters.

The “third degree” with Jim Conley has become a casual everyday affair, to be taken as nothing unusual but as part of his daily routine.

Detectives have grilled him for hours, putting his answers in writing. Then they have returned a week or ten days later to his cell with the same set of questions, and if Conley makes the slightest discrepancy in his answer, he has been rigidly called to account for his mistake.

The negro is said to be naturally quick witted, and ready with his answers the second a question has been completed.


The twelve men, who are to decide Frank’s fate, remained in their rooms at the Kimball hotel all of the afternoon Saturday until Bailiffs A. F. Pennington and Charles Huber escorted them to supper at a nearby restaurant.

A number of carefully-censored periodicals have been allowed the jurors and by reading these and telling stories they are whiling away the time.

Sunday the jurors, guarded by the bailiffs and several deputies, will probably go for a walk.

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Atlanta Journal, August 3rd 1913, “Defense Will Introduce Witnesses,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)