Here is Testimony of Witnesses Given at the Final Session of Coroner’s Jury in Phagan Case

Here is Testimony of Witnesses Given at the Final Session of Coroner's Jury

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

Atlanta Journal

Friday, May 9th, 1913

Full Story of Hearing Thursday Afternoon When Frank, Newt Lee, Detectives Black and Scott and Several Character Witnesses Were Placed on the Stand

The verdict of the coroner’s jury that Mary Phagan came to her death by strangulation and its recommendation that both Mr. Frank and Lee be held for investigation by the grand jury was rendered at 6:30 o’clock Thursday afternoon and marked by the conclusion of one of the most remarkable inquests ever held in this state.

Deputy Plennis Minor carried the news of the coroner’s jury verdict to Mr. Frank and to the negro. Mr. Frank was in the hallway of the Tower, reading an afternoon paper, when the deputy approached him and told him that the jury had ordered him and the negro held for an investigation by the grand jury.

“Well, it’s no more than I expected at this time,” Mr. Frank told the deputy. Beyond this he made no comment.

Newt Lee, says Mr. Minor, was visibly affected. He seemed very much depressed and hung his head in a dejected manner.

The jury was empaneled by Coroner Paul Donehoo on Monday, April 28, and has held four long and tedious sessions for the taking of testimony in addition to meeting to inspect the body and the scene of the crime. Twice the body of Mary Phagan was exhumed at the order of the coroner, in order that physicians might search more thoroughly for clues and evidence.

The reports of the physicians, who made these examinations, have never been made public, even the evidence of the county physician, Dr. J. W. Hurt, having been given the jury behind closed doors. It is said that even to the jury the physician did not go thoroughly into his investigation. The verdict of the jury was rendered after only twenty minutes of deliberation.

Superintendent Frank and the negro, Lee, were both searchingly examined for the second time by the coroner at Thursday afternoon’s session inquest, but neither added materially to former statements. Lee was principally questioned about the interview, which Mr. Frank had with him in a cell at police headquarters.


Harry Scott, the Pinkerton operative on the case, gave interesting testimony of his position in the probe of Mary Phagan’s death. Mr. Scott refused to commit himself, when asked if he had definite information as to who killed Mary Phagan. “I am working on a chain of circumstance—that is all,” he said.

City Detective John Black in answering the same question said that he had no “positive” information as to the murderer.

A number of character witnesses were introduced towards the close of the inquest.

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Atlanta Journal, May 9th 1913, “Here is Testimony of Witnesses Given at the Final Session of Coroner’s Jury in Phagan Case,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)