Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
The Atlanta Georgian
Monday, July 14, 1913
MRS. CRAWFORD BEGINS FIGHT FOR HER FREEDOM
STATE STILL CONFIDENT OF CASE
Story of Negro Who Says He Was Eyewitness of Slaying Disbelieved by Solicitor.
Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey and Attorney Frank A. Hooper, engaged in the prosecution of Leo M. Frank, were induced Monday to break the silence they have maintained grilling the negro Jim Conley last week. They made their first public comments on the sensational developments of the last few days in the Phagan murder mystery.
Both declared emphatically that neither the affidavit of W. H. Mincey, insurance solicitor, nor the reported confession of the negro Will Green, who is said to have been an eyewitness of the attack upon Mary Phagan, gave evidence sufficient to shake their conviction of Leo Frank’s guilt.
Rumors that the State was preparing to change its theory and to ask for the indictment of Jim Conley were laughed at.
Mincey Affidavit Discounted.
“I sincerely doubt,” said Mr. Hooper, “if that Mincey affidavit ever will be heard from again as a seriously considered piece of evidence in the Phagan case. To my mind it means absolutely nothing. The statement, undoubtedly, was made and sworn to, but the prosecution places no dependence in it and will be able to disprove it if its signer is called as a witness in the case.
“It is difficult to understand, of course, how such a statement could be made in good faith. I believe that Mincey was laboring under a delusion. Possibly he was talking to a negro the afternoon of the crime. When he read of the murder of the little factory girl, the incidents of his conversation with some unidentified colored man took on a form in his excited imagination that made him certain that this negro had told of a killing and that the negro was Jim Conley.”
But the defense is firm in the belief that the affidavit and Mincey’s testimony will be important in their efforts to prove the innocence of Frank and the guilt of Conley. This part of the defense will be strengthened by character testimony for Mincey and by statements from negro women who are said to have overheard the conversation between Conley and Mincey in which the negro is quoted as boasting:
“I killed a girl to-day; I don’t want to kill anybody else.”
Green Important Witness.
Much depends on the testimony of the negro, Will Green, who has been tracked through a half-dozen States and is now believed to be in the hands of detectives in Birmingham, Ala. The report that he had declared he had been an eye-witness of the attack upon Mary Phagan and had asserted that it was a negro who was guilty of the crime gave weight for the first time to the possibility that direct evidence would be produced at the trial of Leo Frank.
Until Green entered the case the evidence against both Frank and Lee was purely circumstantial. If Green sticks to the story he is said to have told to companions, it will throw the bulk of the dependence for the conviction of Conley upon his evidence.
Green, according to report, told friends he was shooting craps with a negro on the first floor of the pencil factory on Saturday, April 26. He is reported to have said a little girl came down the steps and that his negro companion, who was partially intoxicated and had been losing money, declared he was going to steal the girl’s money.
Green remonstrated, he said, but the other negro started toward the girl and Green fled. The next Monday he read of the murder and left for St. Louis. It was at this city the hunt for him began.
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The Atlanta Georgian, July 14th 1913, “Prosecution Attacks Mincey’s Affidavit,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)