Many Witnesses Take the Stand to Refute Points of Prosecution

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 13th, 1913

Defense Calls Twenty-Two Men, Women and Boys to Give Evidence Favorable to Frank—Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig, Parents of Frank’s Wife, Declare That There Was Nothing Unusual in Conduct of the Prisoner on Day of Murder


Called to Stand, He Admits Having Been Sent to Gang for Stealing Once and Having to Pay Fine on Another Occasion—Bitter Fight Is Waged Between Attorneys Over a Question Asked of Frank’s Office Boy by Solicitor Dorsey, and Threat of Motion for Mistrial Is Made

Calling upon a total of twenty two witnesses on Tuesday and making a record for the Leo M. Frank case, and possibly for any other in Georgia, the defense yesterday made at tacks on a number of points made by the prosecution earlier in the trial of the man charged with the murder of Mary Phagan.

The day was spent in all but one or two instances in a steady hammering at the prosecution or to change the simple to a ceaseless stirring up of new points so as to muddy the entire case and make the points of the state unrecognizable.

When Solicitor Hugh Dorsey, on cross examination, asked Philip Chambers, Frank’s former office boy, if the superintendent had not made improper advances to him and threatened him to fire him if he did not yield, a bitter fight was started.

Attorneys Luther Rosser and Reuben Arnold declared that such evidence was grossly prejudicial and irrelevant and that if the solicitor ever tried to introduce it again the defense would at once make a motion for a mistrial.

Dorsey Wanted To Impeach Boy

The evidence was ruled out, but not before the boy had denied that Frank ever made advances to him and the solicitor had asked him if he would deny that he had gone to J. M. Gantt, a former bookkeeper, and asked his advice about what to do. The solicitor declared before Judge L. S. Roan ruled the evidence out that he would bring Gantt to the stand to impeach the boy.

Mr. and Mrs. Emil Selig of 68 East Georgia avenue, parents of Mrs. Leo Frank, were placed upon the stand in the afternoon and their testimony was to the effect that their son-in-law, who makes his home with them, had acted naturally at lunch on Saturday, April 26, and also that night.

One of the hardest blows struck the prosecution by the defense was when C. B. Dalton, who had previously sworn to Frank’s alleged intimacy with women in his office, was put upon the stand and made to acknowledge himself familiar with Walton county’s chaingang and also have required at least three and one-half hours. This statement was later corroborated by Joel Hunter, an expert accountant, who verified the mathematical work entering into the financial statement. He said it would have taken him fully that length of time.

Defense Trains Guns on Harris.

The big guns of the defense were trained on the expert testimony of Dr. Harris, who made a post-mortem examination of Mary Phagan’s body and who testified with a finality which was startling that Mary Phagan’s death must have occurred within a half to three-quarters of an hour after eating.

The consensus of expert opinion testifying for the defense was that Dr. Harris was hazarding the wildest sort of a guess.

An interesting echo of the recent differences between Dr. Willis Westmoreland and Dr. Harris was heard while Dr. Westmoreland was on the stand. It will be recalled that Dr. Westmoreland was formerly president of the state board of health and preferred charges against Dr. Harris. When the board failed to remove him, Dr. Westmoreland resigned.

On the stand Monday, Dr. Westmoreland was asked by Solicitor Dorsey what his feelings were toward Dr. Harris. He replied that he had none. Asked as to the trouble he had had with him he replied that he had “found Dr. Harris scientifically dishonest” and had so reported to the board.

The physicians called to refute Dr. Harris were Dr. George Bachman, Dr. T. H. Hancock, Dr. Willis Westmoreland and Dr. John C. Olmstead.

Blood Could Flow Out.

Dr. Hancock testified that blood could and probably would flow out of a wound after a person was dead. Dr. Harris testified that this would be improbable.

He told of having made several tests on persons eating cabbage and bread and exhibited samples taken from the stomachs of these persons at various times. The net result of these experiments was to show that cabbage takes three and one-half to four hours to digest.

Dr. Hancock stated that he had made an examination of Leo M. Frank and found him to be normal, so far as he could discover. He confessed however, that he was not an authority on homosexuality. He also said he was not an expert on stomach trouble.

Dr. Willis Westmoreland stated in reply to a hypothetical question that if a physician made a post-mortem examination for one side in a litigation and failed to preserve the samples from which he had made microscopical examinations so that the other side could have the advantage of making similar examinations it would be against the ethics of the profession and contrary to good practice. It was a rule, he said, to lay aside a part of all specimens.

Speaking of the conclusion of Dr. Harris that Mary Phagan had been violated—the question was again stated hypothetically—Dr. Westmoreland said,

“It is about the wildest guess I ever heard of.”

Dr. Westmoreland stated that he had made an examination of Frank and found him to be normal.

In reply to question by Solicitor Dorsey to the effect that many inverts are otherwise normal he replied that they were.

“There are three classes of inverts, are there not?” asked Mr. Dorsey.

“I should say there were nearer forty,” was the reply.

Dr. J. C. Olmstead’s testimony was along practically the same lines as that of Dr. Westmoreland. Dr. Bachman also contradicted the conclusions reached by Dr. Harris.

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Atlanta Constitution, August 13th 1913, “Many Witnesses Take the Stand to Refute Points of Prosecution,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)