Liberty for Newt Lee Sought

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

The Atlanta Georgian

Saturday, July 5, 1913

Writ to Free Watchman From the Tower Will Be Filed—State to Oppose Liberation.

The prosecution will fight an entirely new angle in the Phagan case Saturday morning when Barnard [sic] L. Chappell, attorney for Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, files a writ of habeas corpus for the release of the negro from the Tower, where he is being held without any charge against him.

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey will ask the courts to hold the negro as a material witness for the State, or may charge him with being an accessory. He was determined Friday to take no chances on so important a witness getting out of his control, as he feared the negro might get beyond the jurisdiction of the courts if given his liberty.

Attorney Chappell and Solicitor Dorsey had agreed, when the negro was committed to jail, to keep him there until the trial. Chappell notified Dorsey Wednesday that he wished to withdraw from the agreement and get his client freed.

Chief Discounts Conley Rumor.

The announcement Friday that he defense had secured an important and damaging affidavit that connected the State’s star witness, Jim Conley, more directly with the crime created a sensation in the ranks of the prosecution.

Chief of Detectives Newport A. Lanford announced that every movement of the negro on the day of the crime had been “checked up,” and that it was a matter of impossibility to find anything more damaging against him than his admission that he helped dispose of the body at the request of Frank.

In commenting on the affidavit secured at the office of Joseph H. Leavitt Thursday the attorney said that it would be almost impossible for the prosecution to break down any statement that was made in the affidavit when the witness was placed on the stand.

Calls Evidence Vital.

He said the witness was a citizen of high standing and would be one of the most important for the defense of Frank.

Attorney Leavitt said that this particular affidavit was one of more than 50 that had been recently secured that dealt almost exclusively with the movements of the negro on the day of the murder. While he would not comment at any length, he intimated that the defense had been able to establish conclusively the exact time Conley entered and left the factory.

He also intimated that affidavits had been secured that would show what time Monteen Stover entered and left the factory and be able to prove she left before Mary Phagan’s car reached the vicinity of the pencil factory.

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The Atlanta Georgian, July 5th 1913, “Liberty for Newt Lee Sought,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)