TODAY we continue the new audio book version of the American Mercury’s centenary series on the 1913 trial and conviction of Jewish sex killer Leo Frank, recorded by Vanessa Neubauer. Many have described this as the trial of the century: Not only did it forever alter Jewish-Gentile relations in the United States, but some say it profoundly changed the attitude of Jews toward their hosts from one of relatively benign interaction to one of active suspicion if not hostility. What is certain is that the founding of the powerful Jewish pressure group, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), was closely tied to the case. Leo Frank was the president of the Atlanta chapter of B’nai B’rith, the parent organization of the ADL. (ILLUSTRATION: James Conley)
Frank was a Jewish sweatshop operator convicted of murdering his 13-year-old employee after she rejected his sexual advances.
This week’s recording is the third in our series, Week Two of the trial itself, and you may download or play the program using the link or player below, and you may also follow along and read the text version too.
This installment covers Week Two of Frank’s trial, including the startling testimony of Jim Conley, the pencil factory sweeper who helped Frank cover up the crime and dispose of Mary Phagan’s body. Like Newt Lee before him, Conley was nearly framed for committing the murder himself. A corrupt Pinkerton Detective claimed to have found a bloody club and a piece of Mary Phagan’s pay envelope near the place where Jim Conley was sitting on the day of the murder — evidence which was later conclusively proven to be fake.
Conley’s testimony was so detailed, so minute, and so compelling that it convinced many doubters. Here’s what William Bradford Huie said about it in this piece:
Police and factory officials accompanied Conley when he was brought back to the scene of the crime. Conley guided them through the factory and recounted and re-enacted the events of April 26, 1913 — the day of the murder — step by step as he had experienced them. The account was so minute in its details, so consistent with the known facts, so precisely matched with evidence which Conley could not possibly have known about unless he had really been there, and presented in such an open and frank manner that even skeptics were convinced by it.
Here is a description of the full series which will be posted as audio in future weeks; once all segments have been released, the Mercury will be offering for sale a complete, downloadable audio book of the full series.
2. WEEK 1
3. WEEK 2
4. WEEK 3
5. Leo Frank mounts the witness stand by Ann Hendon
6. Week 4
7. Closing arguments of Rosser, Arnold and Hooper
8. Closing arguments of Hugh Dorsey
Be sure to look for next week’s installment here — as we continue to follow the trial that changed the South — changed America — and changed the world.