I’m as Innocent as I Was A Year Ago,’ Asserts Frank

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 27th, 1913

Just four months after the murder of Mary Phagan, Leo M. Frank stands convicted of the slaying of the slaying of the 13-year-old girl in the National Pencil factory.

No recommendation for life imprisonment was made by the jurors, this circumstance making it imperative, according to the charge by Judge L. S. Roan, that a sentence of death by hanging be passed upon him. Judge Roan declined to say Tuesday the exact time when he would pass sentence.

Neither the prisoner, his relatives, friends nor any of his counsel appeared in the courtroom when the dread verdict was rendered. The sole representative of the defendant was Stiles Hopkins, a member of the firm of Rosser, Brandon, Sigton & Phillips, who was designated present and waive for Attorneys Rosser and Arnold the presence of the prisoner. A motion for a new trial will be made by Rosser and Arnold.

Populace Cheers Verdict.

The jurors were quick in arriving at their ballot. The case was given into their hands at 12:49. They went immediately to lunch and returned to the courthouse at 1:35. They proceeded to the election to the election of Fred Winburn as foreman and entered upon an informal discussion of the merits of the case. It was apparent that the jurymen were practically of one mind. They cast their ballot. At 3:21 it was known that the verdict was “guilty.” At 4:56 the result was announced in the courtroom.

To avoid any sort of a demonstration, the courtroom was cleared of all spectators when it became known that the jury was ready to render its verdict. Everyone was excluded except Solicitor Dorsey, Attorney Hooper and attaches of Dorsey’s office, several other members of the bar and newspaper man.

Hardly had Foreman Winburn read the words that branded the young factory superintendent a murderer before a mighty shout went up outside the building. The great crowds surging on all sides of the courthouse seemed to have had occult knowledge of the verdict at the very instant it was given utterance.

The news spread like magic. While the cheers still were rending the air, newsboys swooped down upon the courthouse and radiated in different directions from their offices, crying the extras on the verdict.

Frank was in the Tower with his young wife when the verdict was returned.

“My God! Even the jury was influenced by mob law,” was the exclamation with which the accused man met the news of the verdict of guilty.”

“I am as innocent as I was one year ago,” he continued.

Frank would not talk at length to the newspapermen. His wife, who had shown the strain of the last hours of the trial throughout the day, collapsed in tears. Rabbi Marx and other friends of the family were at the tail when the fateful news came. They declared that nothing had developed since the beginning of the trial to shake their belief in Frank’s entire innocence.

After the concluding words of the judge’s charge Monday afternoon, the jury fled from the courtroom and several scores of persons took advantage of the leniency of the court deputies to crowd inside the doors.

In a haze of smoke from innumerable cigars and cigarettes and from the explosion of flashlight powder, the motley roomful of spectators waited impatiently for some sign that jurors were ready to return to the room. Any unexplained move on the part of Sheriff Mangum or one […]


‘I am Innocent; My Case Is in My Lawyers’ Hands,’ He Tells Judge Roan


“I May Have Erred, but My Conscience Is Clear,” He Tells Condemned Man.

[…] of his deputies was the signal for a little flurry and the rumor that a verdict had been reached.

Frank’s Presence Waived.

Several newspapermen sat on the sixth floor of the uncompleted new courthouses and calmly watched the proceedings of the jurymen on the fourth floor of the old building. The election of Winburn as foreman was noted, as well as other details incident to the deliberations. Finally, it became known that a verdict had been reached. This was an hour before the jurors came downstairs. Finally, it became known that a verdict had been reached. This was an hour before the jurors came downstairs. Judge Roan was sent for “An effort was made to get Solicitor Dorsey, but he could not be reached at once.”

Assistant Solicitor E. A. Stephens and Frank Hooper, Dorsey’s associate in the case, entered the courtroom and immediately were closeted in conference with Judge Roan. The discussion was in regard to the waiving of the prisoner’s presence in the courtroom.

The two attorneys did not wish to sneak definitely for the Solicitor on the matter, but neither could see any objection to the procedure if the waiving was formally made by a representative of Rosser’s firm. A little later the spectators were disappointed by the order to clear the courtroom. Dorsey entered just as this order was given. Within five minutes the jury was in the courtroom and the verdict had been returned.

Lanford Says He Is Vindicated.

Though he has been convicted of the most terrible crime in the history of the South, the friends who have stood steadfastly by Leo Frank during the four long months since Mary Phagan’s body was found have not deserted him. They still persist that he is innocent and declare that time will uncover the guilty person and give the young factory superintendent his freedom.

Rabbi David Marx, one of Frank’s staunchest supporters, who has been with the convicted superintendent almost constantly since he was first arrested on suspicion of being connected with the crime, was one of the most surprised men in Atlanta when the verdict was returned. He had confidently expected an acquittal, but even with the sentence of death having over Frank’s head, the devotion with which Rabbi Marx has stood by Frank which has been the admiration even of those who believed Frank guilty does not falter.

Rabbi Marx Astounded.

Dr. Marx was with Frank when the latter was notified of the verdict, and he suffered almost as heavily as the convicted man.

“I am stunned and surprised,” Dr. Marx said. “I can not believe it. I know Leo Frank is innocent I know he is incapable of such a crime. My faith in him has not been shaken by the verdict of the jury. I ask that the public suspend final judgment until an appeal for a new trial is made.”

Shortly after Frank had been notified of the verdict Dr. Marx left the jail for a conference with Frank’s attorneys. He returned later to tend what comfort he could to the prisoner and remained with him in his cell until a late hour.

Fair Trial, Says Lanford.

Chief of Detectives, Newport Lanford, head of the department when aided in securing the evidence that convicted Frank, has issued a statement declaring that the trial of the factory superintendent was the fairest he had ever seen.

“I have never figured in a case where the prisoner was given more privileges and liberties than Frank has received,” Chief Lanford declared. “A body of twelve men in high-standing in the community have found him guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan, and, in my opinion, the verdict was a just one. I think nearly everyone who is familiar with the case believes him guilty.”

“It is very gratifying to the members of my department that the jury after careful deliberation, found Frank guilty. I am not surprised, however, nor are any of the detectives who have worked on the case.”

“We have worked very hard since little Mary Phagan was murdered and have tried to get at the truth regarding the terrible crime. We have been severely condemned by a few persons, most of whom are unfamiliar with the case and with police methods of obtaining evidence, but the verdict of the jury is a complete vindication of our department. We feel that we have received the greatest reward possible—the conviction of the man responsible for the death of Mary Phagan.”

The interest in the residence sections of the city was fully as great as downtown when the verdict came on Monday. Officials of the Southern Bell Telephone Company have made the statement that never in the history of the company have the city telephones been in such universal use as Monday afternoon. Three times as many calls were registered between 2 and 6 o’clock, when the excitement was at its greatest height, as have ever been registered before during an entire day. A special corps of operators was on duty at the exchanges, but they were swamped with the volume of the calls and were unable to attend to more than half of them.

“Old Newt” Lee Is Released From Tower.

Old Newt Lee, as he was referred to by both sides in the Frank trial, the negro night watchman at the National Pencil Factory, was released Tuesday from the Fulton Tower just four months to a day after his fateful find.

The order for his release was signed by Judge Roan and taken to the jail by his attorneys Graham and Chapelle. Graham left with the negro for the police station, where he got a knife and some other personal effects taken from him at the time of his arrest.

Lee was spruce and as cheerful as a darky in watermelon time as he said goodbye to the Tower. He was rigged up in a new outfit and looked more prosperous than he probably ever had in his life.

“He came here in rags, but he is leaving with quite a bunch of luggage,” said one of the deputies.

The negro said he had had a home before the tragedy, but had lost it since.

“All I know is I’m going to look for work, boss,” he said. “I sure got to work to live. I feel weak, just in my body, boss. I feel alright in the head because I never did have nothing to do with that murder and now, they all knows it.”

Lee had been in jail since shortly after 3-o’clock April 27, when police, responding to his telephone call, found the strangled. Mary Phagan in the grimy basement. For a time, his indictment “seemed” certain, but by the time the case reached the Grand Jury the State had centered its prosecution on Frank and no action was taken against the negro. The petition freeing him was made on the formal plea of Solicitor Dorsey.

Hooper Praises Dorsey’s Work.

“In all my experience I have never seen a case more thoroughly gotten up than the State’s cage against Leo M. Frank, as prepared by Solicitor Dorsey. It was complete throughout there was not an angle but which was investigated to the fullest possible extent.”

Thus, spoke Attorney Frank Hooper while awaiting the verdict of the jury.

“Dorsey’s sincerity in the prosecution and the thoroughness with which he entered into the detail of each part of his work was such as to arouse the admiration of anyone. He had the case at his fingertips; his knowledge of each phase of the case was complete. His argument was one of the most masterful I have ever heard. I do not think it could have been possible for a case to have been handled in a better manner.”

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Atlanta Georgian, August 27th 1913, “‘I’m as Innocent as I Was a Year Ago,’ Asserts Frank,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)