Leo Frank, Guilty or Not Guilty, Francis Xavier Busch, 1952

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Guilty or Not Guilty. An Account of the trial of the Leo Frank Case
By Francis Xavier 1952.

The Trial of Leo Frank for the Murder of Mary Phagan (1913)

THE SIGNIFICANCE of the Leo Frank case lies not in the
nature of the crime, but in the publicity which was given
to it and the extraordinary consequences of that publicity.
The trial would probably have attracted no attention out-
side of Fulton County, Georgia, had it not been for the ill-
advised activities of a coterie of Frank’s friends and coreli-
gionists who raised the issue of religious prejudice. During
the trial and the course of the case in the upper courts, this
group made repeated public appeals, through newspaper
advertisements and mailing circulars, for funds to aid Frank
in his defense. The basis of the appeals was that Frank, an
innocent man, was being persecuted because he was a Jew.
These solicitations went to every part of the country, but
were directed particularly to the North. The already high
feeling against Frank in Atlanta was aggravated by these
appeals. It was charged in. the Southern press that $250,000
had thus been raised “to make certain that the guilty Jew
Frank escaped the gallows.”
After Frank had been convicted and sentenced to death,
the Northern press, almost without exception, denounced
the verdict as a travesty of justice. Some leading Northern
papers went so far as to send detectives and well-known
lawyers to Atlanta to “investigate” and “review” the case.
They all reported that Frank was innocent and that his
trial had been a farce.
Then the case came before the Supreme Court of the
United States; and the dissenting opinion of Justice

Holmes and Chief Justice Hughes that-assuming the truth
of facts alleged in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus-
“lynch law [was] as little valid when practiced by a regu-
larly drawn jury as when administered by one elected by
a mob intent on death” gave the Northern press sensational
material to work with. The majority opinion, which de-
nied the writ on the ground that all of the points raised had
been passed on by the Supreme Court of Georgia, was
Editorial comment in the Northern press grew increas-
ingly bitter. Georgia was denounced as a community of
bigots; its courts were branded as incompetent and coward-
ly. An aroused Southern press met this attack with re-
sponses equally vitriolic. The North, it retorted, had its
own unenviable record of crime and incompetency and cor-
ruption in its courts; let it put its own disordered house
in order; its characteristic intermeddling in the purely
domestic affairs of the South was officious, gratuitous and
The commutation of Frank’s sentence to life imprison-
ment was regarded throughout the South, and particularly
in Georgia, as the consequence of Northern propaganda.
In some quarters the direct charge was made that it had
been brought about by bribery. When Frank was forcibly
taken from the state penitentiary by a mob and hanged, the
battle between the Northern and Southern press was in-
tensified. The North saw in the lynching a complete vin-
dication of its previous strictures. Although a few of the
Southern papers condemned the lawlessness of the mob,
many condoned it, finding in it only a justifiable execution
by outraged citizens of the righteous judgment of its courts.
After Frank’s death the excitement gradually subsided;
but, as Mark Sullivan says in his Our Times, the Frank
case “fanned into a new flame for the moment the old ani-
mosities of the North and South of fifty years before.”

PRING ARRIVES early in Georgia. Flowers, wild and cul-
tivated, always in profusion during the long spring
season, are at their height in April. It was probably
for this reason that Georgia, when it was freed of the domi-
nation of Northern “reconstruction,” designated April 26
as a memorial day on which to honor its Confederate dead.
In 1913 the day perhaps had a greater significance in
Atlanta than elsewhere in the state. Many were still living
who remembered the “March to the Sea” and its attendant
death and destruction. Memorial Day in Atlanta was as
much a reminder of that “unforgivable infamy” as it was a
tribute to the fallen wearers of the gray.
On Memorial Day stores and factories closed. Gentle
hands placed bouquets and wreaths on cross-and-flag-
marked cemetery mounds. There was the parade of sol-
diers, old and young, with the dwindling line of veterans
of the War between the States in the place of honor and, at
the climax, the oration of the day-flaming apostrophes
which recalled immortal sacrifices for the “lost cause.”
In 1913 Memorial Day fell on a Saturday. Thirteen-
year-old Mary Phagan was only one of a thousand little
girls who wanted to see the parade. She had been employed
at the National Pencil Company factory. Her job had been
to fasten metal caps on the ends of lead pencils; but at the
close of the workday on the previous Monday the supply
of metal had run out; and she had been “laid off.” For her
work she was paid ten cents an hour, and there was one
dollar and twenty cents due her for her twelve hours’ work
on Monday. Because of the holiday, most of the help had
been paid off on Friday, but Saturday was the usual pay-
day. Mary had been told by one of her fellow workers that
there would be someone at the factory on Saturday from
whom she could get her “envelope.” She told her mother
she would call at the factory, get her money and then go
downtown and watch the parade.

She dressed for the occasion-her best dress, her blue hat
with the ribbons and flowers and her “Sunday shoes.” She
carried the only accessories she possessed: a little varie-
gated parasol and a mesh bag. She was a pretty child-well
developed for her age, blond, blue-eyed and rosy-cheeked.
Though her clothes were of the cheapest she wore them
proudly and made a pleasing picture.
Mary lived with her mother and stepfather in Bellwood
-then a suburb of Atlanta-and reached the factory by
streetcar. At 11:45 A.M. on April 26 she boarded the car
near her home and arrived at the street intersection near-
est the factory a few minutes after noon. It was only a
three-minute walk from there to the factory. The conduc-
tor and the motorman saw her leave and start to walk to-
ward the factory. The evidence as to what happened after-
ward is uncertain and conflicting. It is known that she
entered the factory and while in there was brutally vio-
lated and murdered.
In the early morning of Sunday April 27, about three,
thirty, central police headquarters received a telephone
call. An excited voice reported that the dead body of a
“colored woman” had been found in the basement of the
pencil factory. Two police officers were immediately dis-
patched to the scene. There they were met by one Newt
Lee, Negro night watchman, who was the only person at
the factory. It was Lee who had found the body and noti-
fied the police. He told the officers he had gone to the base-
ment to use the toilet and had then discovered the body.
He led them to the basement.
The only light was from a single gas jet, turned down so
low that it afforded little illumination. One of the police-
men turned the jet on full. On the floor in front of the
furnace was the cold, rigid corpse of a white girl who was
later identified as Mary Phagan. She was lying face down-
ward. Her golden hair was matted with blood, and her
face was swollen and black from dust and dirt. There was

a deep cut on the back of her head and a cord, pulled
tightly around her neck, had cut into the flesh. A strip of
white cloth, torn from the girl’s underskirt, was also
wrapped loosely around her neck. A shoe was missing from
one foot. It was later found some loo or more feet away.
The girl’s hat and bloodstained handkerchief lay on a trash
pile a short distance from the body. The little parasol, un-
damaged, was found1 at the bottom of the near-by elevator
shaft. Near the girl’s head the police discovered two small
sheets of paper, one white and one yellow, on which were
scrawled in uncertain writing2 two separate pencil notes:

maam that negro hire doun here did this i went to make
water and he puch he doun that hole a long tall negro black
that hoo it wase long sleam tall negro … wright while…

he said he would. . . play like nigt witch did it but that
long tall black negro did it buy hisself.

The papers on which the notes were written had appar-
ently come from an order pad, a number of which lay on
a trash pile near the body.
The body was removed to a mortuary. Later medical
examination established that death had been due to stran-
gulation. According to an autopsy and microscopic anal-
ysis, there was no indication of spermatozoa on the clothing
or body; yet the epithelium of the walls of the vagina had
been torn and bruised.3 The girl’s drawers had been cut
or ripped up the seam and were stained with blood and
As the morning wore on, more police arrived at the
building and a thorough search was begun. Nothing fur-
ther of significant importance was discovered. The layout
of the building, which assumed an importance later in the
1 The mesh bag was never found.
2 Dots indicate where the words were illegible.
3 This was a matter of dispute during the trial.

trial, was noted. The building occupied by the National
Pencil Company was a four-story brick-and-frame struc-
ture with a basement. The factory had a frontage of seven-
ty-five feet on South Forsyth Street and a depth of one
hundred and fifty feet to a public alley. The main entrance
was from Forsyth Street through a hallway on the first floor.
Within this hallway, and some twenty-five or thirty feet
from the entrance door, was a stairway which led to the
upper floors of the building.
The second floor was shut off from the stairway by a par-
tition, and access to it was obtained by a door. This floor
contained the company’s offices. The superintendent’s
inner office was separated from the outer office by a parti-
tion. Also on the second floor was the machine or metal
room, also partitioned off. In this room there were numer-
ous machines and inner, partitioned dressing and toilet
rooms for female employees. Mary Phagan and a number
of other young girls worked in the metal room.
There was an enclosed elevator shaft in the outer hall
which extended from the basement to the fourth floor. The
elevator was operated electrically. In addition to the iron
stairs leading from the first floor to the basement there was,
immediately behind the elevator shaft on the first floor, an
opening or hatchway from which a ladder extended to the
basement. When the factory was in full operation more
than ioo persons, mostly women and girls, were employed
on the first, second, third and fourth floors of the building.
Lee, the night watchman, told Police Captain Starnes,
who was in charge of the investigation, that after he found
the body he tried several times, but without success, to get
in touch with Leo Frank, the superintendent of the factory,
by telephone. The captain also put in repeated calls, but it
was not until 7:00 A.M. that Frank answered the phone.
Starnes asked him to come immediately to the factory.
Frank replied that he had not had his breakfast, and asked
where the night watchman was. Starnes told him that it

would be necessary for him to come at once and that he
would send an automobile for him. The captain did not
tell him what had happened, and Frank did not ask.
When the officers called at Frank’s house a few minutes
later, Frank asked what had happened. He was told to get
dressed, go to the factory and see for himself. He then
asked, “Did the night watchman report anything to you?”
This question was also ignored. The officers were later to
testify that during this interview Frank seemed very ner-
vous and excited. When he had got into the police car, one
of the officers asked him if he knew a little girl by the name
of Mary Phagan. Frank asked, “Does she work at the fac-
tory?” The officer said he thought she did. Frank was told
of the finding of the girl’s body; then he said, “I can’t tell
whether I know her or not until I look on my payroll book.
I know very few of the girls that work there. I pay them
off but I seldom go into the factory and I know very few of
them. I can look on my payroll and tell you if a girl
named Mary Phagan works there.”
Frank was then taken to the mortuary to which the girl’s
body had been removed. He glanced at the body, said he
didn’t know the girl, but could tell whether she worked
at the factory by looking at his payroll book. The officers
later declared that during this attempt at identification
Frank was “extremely nervous” and “badly shaken.”
The police next drove Frank to the factory. With them
he went into the office on the second floor, opened the safe
in the outer room and took out a time book. After running
down the list of employees, he said, “Yes, Mary Phagan
worked here. She was here yesterday to get her pay. I’ll
tell you the exact time she left here. My stenographer left
about twelve, and a few minutes after she left, the office boy
left, and Mary came in and got her money and left.” Frank
asked the policemen if the envelope containing her money
had been found. According to the officers, he still seemed
to be in a highly nervous and excited state. Frank asked to

see where the body had been found. He accompanied the
officers to the basement, and the place was pointed out to
him. Witnesses were later to testify that during this time
also Frank showed intense agitation.
Captain Starnes at this stage saw nothing suspicious in
Frank’s story or his actions. He ascribed Frank’s agitation
-at the mortuary and on being shown where the body was
found-to the natural reaction of a man confronted with
news of the murder of one of his employees and concern
for the effect the publicity might have on the pencil com-
pany’s business.
Lee, meanwhile, had been arrested. A shirt with blood
spots on the front of it had been found in a trash barrel
near his home. He denied it was his, and no evidence was
developed to prove the contrary. Despite police abuse (he
was manacled to a chair, which made either rest or move-
ment difficult) and almost continuous questioning, he
stuck to his original story. Such additional details as he
gave were consistent with it and were verified by investiga-
Soon after Lee had been placed in custody the police
officers asked Frank to talk with Lee privately to see if he
could obtain additional information from him. Frank,
after conversing alone with Lee for some time, reported
that he had talked freely, but had told him nothing he had
not already told the police.4
On Sunday Frank suggested to the police that they might
do well to question Jim Conley, a Negro roustabout worker
at the factory, and J. M. Gantt, a white man and former
employee, who had recently been discharged because of a
shortage in his accounts. Frank told the police that Gantt.
“had been on intimate terms with Mary Phagan.”
Gantt, who had known Mary Phagan and her family for
several years, was arrested. He was held in custody and
4 Lee gave a different version of this conversation at the trial. Reference
to this will be made later.

questioned for several days, but had comparatively little
difficulty in convincing the police that he knew nothing of
her murder. Conley was arrested the Thursday following
the murder. He had a police record of convictions for a
number of petty offenses and a generally bad reputation
among both blacks and whites. In spite of his repeated pro-
testations that he had been drunk all of Memorial Day and
nowhere near the factory, the police were apparently con-
vinced from the start that he knew something of the crime.
They kept him in close custody and, in the language of one
of the later witnesses, “continued to work on him.”
It was determined almost immediately that the penciled
notes found near Mary Phagan’s body had not been writ-
ten by her. Mary Phagan had had only two or three years’
schooling, but specimens of her writing produced by her
mother and friends were entirely unlike the writing in the
notes and showed, moreover, that she capitalized properly
and spelled and punctuated fairly well. The police quite
logically concluded that the notes had been prepared and
planted by someone who hoped thereby to divert suspi-
cion from himself.
The elimination of Gantt as a suspect, the failure of the
police to turn up any evidence directly incriminating Lee
or Conley, and the piecing together of what the police
deemed peculiar circumstances shifted suspicion to Frank.
On April 29, three days after the crime, he was arrested,
lodged in jail and booked on a charge of suspected murder.
Leo Frank was a native of Texas but had spent his boy-
hood and early manhood in Brooklyn. He attended the
public schools there, took some preparatory work at Pratt
Institute and matriculated at Cornell University. He grad-
uated from this institution in 19o6 with a degree of Bach-
elor of Engineering. His uncle had organized and estab-
lished the National Pencil Company in Atlanta; so, after
working for a short time in Boston, Frank went to Atlanta
to learn, and to grow up with, the business. Starting as a

draftsman, he became by successive promotions superin-
tendent and vice-president. He was married but had no
children. At the time of the Phagan murder he was twen-
ty-nine years old. The newspapers described and pictured
him as a slight, thin-faced, rather frail-looking individual,
with heavy black hair, a prominent nose and “stary” eyes.
This last feature was accentuated by the thick-lensed glasses
he habitually wore. He was of medium height and weighed
about i3o pounds.
The morning after the murder Frank called in one of
the regular attorneys for the company, a Herbert Haas, “to
protect the pencil company’s interests.” Ostensibly for the
same reason, he asked the Pinkerton Detective Agency to
make an “independent investigation” of the crime. The
manager of the Atlanta Pinkerton office-a man named
Scott-accepted the employment. An ordinance of the City
of Atlanta licensed private detectives and required, as one
of the conditions for the license, that when engaged in
work on criminal cases they should promptly report their
findings to the municipal police and co-operate with them
in the apprehension and prosecution of criminals. Scott’s
relations with the Atlanta police were extremely friendly;
and, in accepting the pencil company’s employment, he
made it clear to Frank that he intended to “work with the
police” to discover the murderer “regardless of who it
might turn out to be.” Frank told Scott that Detective
Black seemed to suspect him; but he professed his complete
satisfaction with Scott’s declared intention to “get to the
bottom of the matter.”
The police ordered the factory closed on Monday so
they might make a more leisurely and thorough inspection
of it. Scott participated with the officers in the inspection.
Some stains which looked like human blood were found on
the floor of the metal room near the dressing room. An
attempt had apparently been made to obliterate or obscure
the stains by rubbing some white substance over them. On

the handle of a bench lathe near Mary’s machine were
some strands of what looked like human hair. Employees
who operated near-by machines were questioned. All were
certain that neither the stains nor the hair had been there
when they had left the factory the Friday before. The
parts of the cement floor containing the stains were chipped
out and, together with the supposed human hair, were pre-
served for possible future use as evidence.
Scott took a complete statement from Frank. It was sub-
stantially the same statement he made a few days later at
the coroner’s inquest and, except for slight modifications,
was consistent with his longer and sworn statement made
on his trial. Scott, however, found a number of items in
the statement which, he later decided, convinced him that
Frank was not telling the full or exact truth. Scott indig-
nantly repudiated a suggestion that his reports should be
submitted to Frank’s attorney before they were shown to
the police. This, it would appear, increased Scott’s suspi-
cion that Frank was in some way involved. Frank or Haas
terminated the employment of the Pinkerton agency on
Wednesday-the day before Frank’s arrest-but Scott con-
tinued to work on the case with the Atlanta police. When
official suspicion was definitely directed toward Frank,
Scott made no effort to allay it; on the contrary, as new
evidence against Frank came to light, he was one of the
first to merge suspicion into accusation.
In their re-examination and appraisal of Frank’s conduct
the police recalled a number of circumstances which they
now deemed suspicious: In the early morning of the twen-
ty-seventh, following the discovery of the girl’s body, Frank
had not answered the repeated telephone calls made by Lee
and Captain Starnes. He had balked when Starnes had said
he should come to the factory immediately. When asked by
the officers if he knew Mary Phagan he had answered that
he could not tell; that he knew very few of the factory girls
by name. These circumstances were compared with his

statement, made immediately afterward at the office, in
which he said: A girl named Mary Phagan worked there,
and she had got her pay on Saturday. He could tell the
exact time she came and left. His stenographer had left at
twelve o’clock, and his office boy had left a few minutes
later. Mary came in after that.
To the conclusion which they drew from this comparison
the police added another observation: Right on the heels
of Frank’s declaration that he did not know Mary Phagan
he had directed suspicion to Gantt by saying that Gantt had
been “intimate” with her. The police recalled Frank’s ex-
treme nervousness and agitation on Sunday morning when
the officers had called at his home and had taken him to
the mortuary to see the dead body of the girl and to the
basement of the factory where the body had been found.
Both Lee and Gantt had since told them of Frank’s appar-
ent fright when he had encountered Gantt at the door of
the factory at six o’clock Saturday.
The police now regarded it as significant that before and
after Frank reached the factory on Sunday morning he had
asked if they had found the girl’s pay envelope. Lee had
denied Frank’s statement that Frank frequently called him
at the factory after hours to inquire if everything was all
right. He said that his call at seven o’clock on the twenty-
sixth was the first such call he had made. Lee had also
told the police that when Frank had talked to him privately
in his cell Frank had said, “If you keep up like this, both
of us will go to hell.”
In later searches of the factory premises the police had
discovered several pieces of cord identical with the cord
which had been used to strangle the girl; some of it had
been found in the metal room.
The police arrested one Mineola McKnight, the Negro
cook in the Frank home. She was detained for some time
and questioned. Among other things, she told the officers
that when Frank came home Saturday night he was drunk

and that he talked wildly and threatened to kill himself.5
By persistent questioning, the police also obtained state-
ments from a number of girls who worked at the factory.
They said Frank had embarrassed and annoyed them with
his attentions.
On Monday April 28 the county coroner summoned and
swore a jury to inquire into and determine the manner and
agency by which Mary Phagan had come to her death. After
viewing the body and the factory premises, the jury con-
tinued the taking of testimony to May 6. On that day
Frank, Gantt, a number of factory workers, policemen, and
relatives and friends of Frank appeared and testified.

Frank, represented by Luther Z. Rosser of the firm of
Arnold 9 Rosser-one of the best-known criminal-trial
lawyers in the South-took the stand and submitted pa-
tiently to three and one-half hours of examination.

This was Frank’s story: On Saturday April 26 he arrived
at the pencil company’s office at about 8:30 A.m. He in-
tended to work all day, because he had to get out his end-
of-the-month financial statements. When he reached the
factory the day watchman and an office boy were already
there. Two carpenters were also there, changing some par-
titions on the fourth floor. Several other employees came
in, between 8:3o and 9:3o. Between 9:30 and 9:45 he left
the factory in the company of a man named Darley, gen-
eral superintendent of the pencil company, and a man
named Lyons, superintendent of a near-by factory.

Continuing his testimony, Frank stated: He stopped at
the near-by office of Montag Brothers, an affiliate of the
pencil company in the same block, to see if he could get
that company’s stenographer Mattie Hall to come over to
the pencil company and do some work for him. He spoke
briefly with some of his friends at Montag Brothers and

(5 Concerning Minola McKnight

She later repudiated all of these statements. She said that the police had
abused and threatened her and that she had answered “yes” to everything
they had asked in order to escape their brutality and get out of jail.)

then returned to his office at 11:05 A.M. Miss Hall was al-
ready there. A Mrs. White, wife of one of the carpenters,
was also there. She asked and received his permission to go
up to the fourth floor to see her husband. Between 11:05
and 11:45 four other people came into the office and left.

Frank further stated in his testimony the following: He
told the day watchman he could leave as soon as he got
certain work done, and the man left about 11:45 A.M. It
was ten or fifteen minutes later that the little girl, whom he
afterward learned was Mary Phagan, came into his office
and asked for her pay envelope. He asked her what her
number was. She told him. He went to the cash box, iden-
tified her envelope by number, took it out and handed it
to her. As she started to leave she turned around and asked
if the metal had come yet. He told her, “No.”6 He heard
her footsteps as she went away. He did not see her again
until he was shown her dead body in the mortuary on Sun-
day morning. About five minutes after the girl left, one
Lemmie Quinn, a foreman at the pencil factory, came in,
and they talked for a minute or two.7
Frank, in his testimony in the inquest, was positive in the
timing of his actions, At 12:45 P.m. he telephoned the cook
at his house to inquire when lunch would be ready. Then
he went to the fourth floor to tell the carpenters that he was
locking up. The men said they would work through until
he got back. Mrs. White followed him down the stairs and
left the building at 12:50. He returned to his office, put
away his papers, went downstairs, locked the outside factory
door and left about 1: 1o. He reached home about 1:2o, had
lunch, lay down and rested for a while. Then he got up
and telephoned his brother-in-law and told him that be-
cause of work at the office he could not go with him to the

( 6 In an earlier statement to the police and to Scott Frank said that his
answer to her was that he didn’t know; much was later to be made of this
variation at the trial.
7 In his earlier statements to the police and to Scott Frank made no men-
tion of Quinn. )

ball game as previously planned. He took a streetcar back
to the factory and arrived there shortly before 3:oo.
The carpenters had just finished their work, Frank said,
and they left the building at’ 3: 1O P.M. At 4:00 Newt Lee,
the night watchman, came in. He had told Lee the day
before to report at that hour, because he (Frank) had ex-
pected to go to the ball game. However, there was no work
for Lee to do; so he told Lee to go off and amuse himself
and come back at 6:oo. After Lee left he continued to
work until 6:oo, at which time Lee returned. He closed his
office, went to the front door of the factory and there found
Gantt talking to Lee. Gantt wanted to go up to the fourth
floor to get a pair of shoes he said he had left there, and he
(Frank) told Lee it would be all right to let Gantt into
the factory for that purpose.
Frank said he then left the factory, performed some
errands and arrived home about 6:25 P.m. He called Lee
on the telephone around 7:00 to ask if Gantt had got his
shoes and if everything was all right at the factory. Then
he had supper and read the newspapers. Some friends came
in and played cards with his parents-in-law, and he retired
about 10: 3o. The telephone in the house, Frank explained,
was in the dining room on the first floor, and the sleeping
rooms were on the second floor; this accounted for the fact
that he had not heard the early calls from Lee and Statnes.
He said he awoke at 7:00 just in time to answer the last
of Starnes’s calls. Frank denied positively that he had ever
spoken to Mary Phagan before the twenty-sixth when she
came in to get her pay or that he had known her by name
before the tragedy.
The coroner’s inquest was concluded on May 8. The
jury returned a verdict of murder at the hands of a person
or persons unknown. While it does not appear in the ver-
dict, the questions and comments of the coroner and jurors
indicated their theory: that the murder had taken place on
one of the upper floors of the factory and that the body had

been carried to the basement and placed in front of the
furnace, with the intent of later burning it. There were
suggestions, too, that the factory had been regularly used
as a love rendezvous and that Frank had been guilty of im-
proper relations there with some of the female employees.
Meanwhile on May 3 a public announcement was made
stating that Solicitor General Hugh A. Dorsey had assumed
personal direction of the investigation to discover the mur-
derer of Mary Phagan. On May 6 a grand jury was im-
paneled by Judge Ellis in the Fulton County Superior
Court. He referred to the “unsolved Phagan case” and di-
rected, because of the revolting nature of the crime and
the public agitation over it, that it be given top priority in
the jury’s considerations.
Following the coroner’s verdict a new and, as the event
proved, most important witness appeared. One of the fac-
tory girls-one Monteen Stover-made an affidavit in which
she said that she called at Frank’s office at five minutes after
twelve on Saturday the twenty-sixth to get her pay and that
Frank was not in his office. She said she waited for him for
about five minutes and then left. This was a direct contra-
diction of Frank’s statement that he was continuously in
his office from 11:o5 to 12:45.
Another girl-one Helen Ferguson-told the police that
on Friday the twenty-fifth, when she got her pay, she told
Frank that Mary Phagan had asked her to get her envelope.
Frank refused to give it to her. He said that Mary would
have to call for her pay herself. This was balanced against
the admitted fact that pay envelopes of employees were fre-
quently delivered to their fellow workers or relatives.
Apparently the solicitor general was in serious doubt as
to whether he should ask for a true bill against Frank or
Newt Lee. He had a form of indictment prepared and in
hand to fit either of them, and kept both names before the
jury until the last witness had been heard. On May 24,
however, he determined the question by asking for a true

bill against Frank. The jury accordingly returned a no
bill against Lee and an indictment against Frank charging
him with first-degree murder.
By a strange coincidence, the Atlanta newspapers on
the same day released a “confession” which the police had
secured from Jim Conley. In it he charged Frank with the
murder and confessed that at Frank’s direction and with
his assistance he had removed the body from the metal
room on the second floor to the basement and left it in
front of the furnace. Conley also declared that at Frank’s
dictation he wrote the notes which were found near the
girl’s body.
The death notes were compared with admitted speci-
mens of Conley’s handwriting. A similarity was apparent.
No expert testimony on this point was offered on the trial,
but Albert S. Osborn of New York, the most famous ques-
tioned-document expert in the United States, later declared
that in his opinion there was no doubt that the notes had
been written by Conley.

The case of the State of Georgia against Leo N. Frank
came for trial at Atlanta in the Fulton County Superior
Court on July 28, 1913. Presiding was the Honorable L. S.
Roan, a veteran jurist of wide experience-able, conscien-
tious, impartial and kindly. Appearing for the State were
Solicitor General Hugh A. Dorsey, Special Assistant
Solicitor Harry Hooper and Assistant Solicitor E. A. Ste-
phens. Frank was represented by Reuben R. Arnold,
Luther Z. Rosser, Stiles Hopkins and Herbert Haas. Solici-
tor General Dorsey carried the burden for the prosecution.
He was a large, strikingly handsome man and a determined
and forceful advocate. He was fully convinced of Frank’s
guilt, as were most of the citizenss of Atlanta, and con-
ducted the trial throughout with an intensity of emotion
s One of the Atlanta newspapers estimated on the basis of informal polls
that four out of five of the townspeople held this view.

that electrified the crowds which daily jammed the court-
room. Arnold and Rosser shared the work of Frank’s de-
fense. They were old hands at the game and, realizing the
evidence and prejudice they had to overcome, sought by
all legitimate means to impeach the State’s witnesses and
to build up an affirmative case for Frank of such preponder-
ating weight that it would compel a verdict of acquittal.
One hundred and forty-four veniremen were summoned.
Despite the publicity given the crime-the police investi-
gation, the inquest, the grand-jury proceedings and the ac-
tivities of the police department and the solicitor general’s
office in the preparation of the case for trial-it took less
than four hours to select and agree on a jury of twelve men
who swore they had no preconceived opinions of Frank’s
guilt or innocence, and could give him a fair and impartial
trial. Of the twelve chosen, eleven were married and five
of them fathers. They were -of widely diverse occupations:
two salesmen, two machinists, a bank teller, a bookkeeper,
a real-estate agent, a manufacturer, a contractor, a mail
clerk, an optician and a railroad claim agent.
Special Assistant Solicitor Hooper in short and dramatic
sentences outlined the State’s case against Frank: The evi-
dence would show that thirteen-year-old Mary Phaganr
came to her death as the consequence of a premeditated
rape of her person by the defendant. Frank had previously
seduced and take4 indecent liberties with a number of
other young factory girls, and had made unsuccessful ad-
vances to Mary Phagan. Frank knew she was coming to the
factory on Saturday because one of her fellow employees
had asked him the day before for her pay envelope, and
Frank had said that she would have to come herself and
get it. To aid him in his lecherous activities Frank had
trained the Negro Conley to act as a lookout and to see
that he was not interrupted during his immoral and per-
verted acts. Conley had been told to report to the office
on Saturday April 26 for another of these occasions.

It would be the contention of the State, supported by
evidence, said Hooper, that Mary Phagan came to Frank’s
office at 12: io P.M. Hooper sketched in the details of what
then occurred: Frank was alone in his office. After he
had given the girl her pay envelope she had asked him if
the metal for her work had come. He had answered he
didn’t know and, ostensibly to find out, had followed her
into the metal room. While in there he had made advances
to her which she had repulsed. He had then knocked her
down, rendered her unconscious and raped her. In a panic
of terror lest she recover consciousness and accuse him of
rape, he had strangled her to death. He had left the body
in the metal room while he went up to the fourth floor; he
wanted to get the people out of the building in order that
he might dispose of the body. After he had got rid of Mrs.
White he called Conley and told him that the little girl
had refused him and that he “guessed he had struck her too
hard.” The two of them then dragged the body to the ele-
vator and took it to the basement. They made plans to
burn the corpse later. Frank gave Conley $2.5o and, later,
$2oo. But almost immediately he asked for and got the
$2oo back, after promising Conley he would pay him when
the job was finished.
Hooper outlined briefly the remainder of the State’s evi-
dence, emphasizing particularly the expected testimony of
Monteen Stover that Frank was not, as he had told the
police and the coroner, in his office continuously from
11:05 A.M. to 12:45 P.M., but was out of his office when she
came there looking for him at 12:o5; that she had waited
for him for five minutes; and that when, in leaving, she had
tried the door to the metal room, she had found it locked.
The first witness called by the State was Mary Phagan’s
mother. Mary, she said, would have been fourteen years
old had she lived until the first of June. She was a pretty
girl and well developed for her age. On Saturday April 26
at 11: 30 A.M. Mary had eaten a hearty dinner of bread and

cabbage. About 11:45 she had left the house. She said she
was going to the pencil factory to get her pay, and from
there she was going to see the Memorial Day parade. She
wore a lavender dress trimmed with lace, a blue hat with
flowers in the center, and carried a little parasol and a
German silver-mesh bag. Mary’s mother identified the
dress, underclothing, hat and parasol shown her as the
things Mary had worn and carried when she last saw her
One George Epps, a fourteen-year-old boy who lived
“right around the corner” from Mary, testified he got on
the same streetcar with her about 11: 50 A.M. and rode with
her until she got off the car at Forsyth and Marietta streets.
It was then about 12:07.
The next witness was Newt Lee, the night watchman.
He testified in substance as follows: His regular working
hours were from 6:oo P.M. to 6:0o A.M., except on Satur-
days, when he reported for work at 5:oo P.M. He got to the
factory a few minutes before 4:00 on Saturday and found
the outside door and the double inside doors to the up-
stairs locked. In the previous three weeks of his employ-
ment at the factory he had never found either of these doors
locked when he came on duty in the afternoon. He had
keys to the doors and opened them. As he unlocked the
double doors Frank came “bustling out of his office,” a
thing he had never seen him do before. Frank said, “Come
here a minute, Newt. I am sorry I had you come so soon.
You could have been at home sleeping. I tell you what
you do. You go downtown and have a good time.” Frank
had never let him off like that before. He then told Frank
he would lie down in the factory’s shop room. At that
Frank said, “Oh, no. You need to have a good time. You
go downtown and have a good time. Stay an hour and a
half and come back at your usual time at six o’clock.” He
(Lee) then left.
Lee continued his testimony: He returned to the factory

a few minutes before 6:oo P.M. He was standing at the
front door when J. M. Gantt came from across the street.
Gantt told him he wanted to go up to the fourth floor and
get a pair of shoes he had left there. He told Gantt that he
was not allowed to let anyone into the factory after six
o’clock. He was still talking to Gantt when Frank opened
the front door and came out. When Frank saw Gantt he
jumped back as if he was “frightened.” Gantt told Frank
he wanted to go upstairs to get his shoes. Frank said,
“Well, I don’t know.” Then Frank “sort of dropped his
head.” He looked up and said to him (Lee), “You go up-
stairs with him and stay until he finds his shoes.” He fol-
lowed Frank’s instructions. He went upstairs with Gantt,
found the shoes, came downstairs and saw Gantt leave the
building. At some time after seven o’clock Frank called
him on the telephone and inquired, “Is everything all
right?” He replied that everything was all right so far as
he knew. It was the first time that Frank had ever called
him on the phone.
Lee then repeated the story he had told the police. His
account included his discovery of the body, his calling the
police station, his unsuccessful attempts to reach Frank by
telephone, and of the arrival of the officers and his direct-
ing them to the body. He testified he didn’t see Frank
after that until sometime between seven and eight o’clock,
and then he did not speak to him.
The next conversation Lee had with Frank was two days
afterward, on Tuesday evening, at the police station. He
was at that time under arrest, and the officers had brought
Frank into his cell. This is Lee’s story of their meeting:
He was handcuffed to a chair. Frank sat down in another
chair and “hung his head.” When they were alone he said
to Fiank, “Mr. Frank, it is mighty hard for me to be hand-
cuffed here for something I don’t know nothing about.”
Frank answered, “What’s the difference? They have got me
locked up and a man guarding me.” He then asked Frank,

“Mr. Frank, do you believe that I committed that crime?”
Frank said, “No, Newt, I know you didn’t, but I believe
you know something about it.” In answer to Frank’s state-
ment he said, “Mr. Frank, I don’t know a thing about it any
more than finding the body.” Frank then said, “We’ll not
talk about that now. We will let that go. If you keep that
up we will both go to hell.” At that time the officers came
in and took Frank out.
Lee’s testimony was not weakened by Rosser’s careful
and exhaustive cross-examination. Some beneficial qual-
ifications were developed: The locked double doors inside
the entrance to the building would not have prevented any-
one from going to the basement. The front door and the
double doors were unlocked when Lee returned to the fac-
tory at six o’clock. Frank had previously told Lee that
Gantt had been discharged and that if he saw him hanging
about the factory to watch him. Lee also said that Gantt
was “a big fellow about seven feet tall.” Gantt may have
startled Frank. Lee in making his rounds after six o’clock
had gone through the machine room and the ladies’ dress-
ing room every half hour and noticed nothing unusual.
When he first saw the body he thought it was that of a Negro
because her face was so black and dirty. When he was in the
basement with the policemen, one of them showed him the
notes they had found near the body. He swore he had never
seen them before.
Various members of the police department gave their
testimony9 as to their notification of the murder, their go-
ing to the factory, their conversation with Lee, the finding
of the body, the position and condition of the body and its
removal to the mortuary. The notes found near the body,
the girl’s clothing and the parasol were identified and re-
ceived in evidence. Other officers told of the telephone
calls to Frank and their conversations with him at his
9 In the narrative of this case the exact order in which the witnesses were
called has been disregarded.

home, at the undertaker’s and in the factory. All agreed
that during the entire morning Frank was in a highly ner-
vous state-“his hands shook,” “he appeared excited,” “was
jumpy,” “talked rapidly,” at times “hung his head,” and
asked the same questions over and over again.
Harry Scott, superintendent of the local branch of the
Pinkerton Detective Agency, testified in substance as
follows� He was employed by Frank to represent the Na-
tional Pencil Company and to “endeavor to determine who
is responsible for this matter.” He questioned Frank
closely as to his movements on Friday and Saturday. Frank
answered all of his questions readily and told him substan-
tially the same story that he later told at the coroner’s in-
quest. Frank, in his statement to him, declared positively
that he was continuously at his desk in the inside office
from the time he got back from Montag Brothers at i I:0o5
A.M. until 12:50 P.m., at which time he went upstairs to
the fourth floor to tell the carpenters that he was leaving
the factory to go home to lunch. Frank was equally posi-
tive that Gantt had paid a good deal of attention to Mary
Phagan and had been “intimate” with her.
Scott, continuing his testimony, stated that after Frank
was arrested on April 29 and confined in the same police
barracks as Lee, Detective Black suggested to Frank, in his
(Scott’s) presence, that he did not believe Lee had told all
he knew; that Frank was his employer and ought to be able
to get more out of him than anyone else. Then Black
asked if Frank would talk to Lee. Frank readily consented,
was taken to Lee’s cell and left alone with Lee for about
ten minutes. He (Scott) didn’t hear all that was said, but
he did hear Lee say, “It’s awful hard for me to be hand-
cuffed here to this chair.” Later he heard Frank say, “Well,
they have got me, too.” After Frank left Lee’s cell Black
asked if Lee had told him anything and Frank replied Lee
had not. Lee had stuck to his original story. Frank, when
he came out of Lee’s cell, appeared “extremely nervous,”

“hung his head,” “shifted his position,” “sighed heavily,”
“took deep swallows”, and “hesitated.”
Scott and Black both testified to finding a bloodstained
shirt in a trash barrel at Lee’s house the Tuesday morning
following the murder. The city chemist, who examined the
shirt, refused to swear positively that the stains were human
blood. He said the shirt showed no signs of having been
worn since it had last been laundered.
Two of the factory machinists, who reported as usual for
work Monday morning, testified to finding some splotches
which looked like blood on the floor near the ladies’ dress-
ing room in the metal department. Some “white stuff”
which they thought might be potash or “haskoline” had
been smeared over the spots. They found also some strands
of what looked like hair on the handle of a bench lathe
near the machine where Mary worked. Neither the spots
nor the hair, they said, had been there the previous Fri-
A number of police officers and other witnesses testified
the spots were pointed out to them and looked like blood.
Witnesses identified pieces of cement chipped from the
floor, which showed the stains. The city chemist had also
examined and tested these. He testified he was unable to
declare positively that the stains were human blood.
Several witnesses testified there were pieces of cord in the
machine room of the same kind as that which had been
used to strangle the girl. They said that similar cord was
used throughout the factory and could be found on any of
the floors.
Much of this testimony was uncontroverted and, with
the exception of Lee and Scott, the cross-examinations
were relatively brief. One of the witnesses-Darley, general
manager of the pencil-company factory-was friendly to-

ward Frank, and both on direct and cross-examination, did
everything he could to aid him. There was nothing sig-
nificant, he said, about Frank’s nervousness on Sunday after
he had been told of the crime. Frank was naturally high-
strung and became nervous and excited at any unusual
occurrence. Darley admitted having seen the supposed
blood spots on the metal-room floor but said he frequently
saw blood and “white stuff” on the floor in and around the
ladies’ dressing room. The factory was a very dirty place,
he added.
The undertaker who embalmed the body, and two phy-
sicians gave testimony as to its condition. The under-
taker testified: When he saw the body-about 9:00 A.M.
Sunday morning-it looked as though the girl had been
dead for ten to fifteen hours. There was a scalp wound two
and one-half inches long on the back of the head, but the
skull was not fractured. The girl’s hair was clotted with
blood and around her neck there was a cord drawn so
tightly that it cut into the flesh. He said he examined the
girl’s clothing. The right leg of her drawers had been slit
with a knife or torn up the seam. There were stains of
urine, some discharge and dried blood on them.
The undertaker’s testimony was corroborated in part by
that of the county physician. He testified in substance as
follows: The head wound had been made before death,
The cuts on her face and the bruises and scratches on her
right elbow and left knee had been made after death. The
cord around the girl’s neck was imbedded in the skin, and
her tongue protruded an inch and a half through her teeth.
There was no question that she had died of strangulation.
Although he found blood on her private parts he found no
evidence of violence to the girl’s female organs. The hymen
was not intact, but she had normal genital organs which
were somewhat larger than usual for a girl of her age. This
condition could have been produced by penetration im-
mediately preceding death.

On cross-examination the county physician testified that
the blood he found might have been menstrual flow. He
said that he discovered no “outward signs” of rape.
The testimony of Dr. H. F. Harris, who made a post-
mortem examination of the body, was considerably at vari-
ance with that of the county physician. Dr. Harris testified:
The vagina definitely showed evidence of some kind of
violence before death-an injury made by a finger or by
other means. The epithelium was pulled loose from the
inner walls and completely detached in some places. The
violence which had produced this condition had occurred
before death. He found evidence of internal bleeding. It
would have taken considerable violence to tear the epithe-
lium to such an extent that bleeding would ensue. He had
also examined the stomach contents. The digestive process
had ceased with her death. In his opinion the girl had
lived for from one half to three quarters of an hour after
she had eaten her meal of bread and cabbage.
Helen Ferguson, who worked in the metal room with
Mary Phagan, testified she saw Frank at seven’ o’clock Fri-
day night when she got her pay. She asked him to give her
Mary’s envelope so that she might take it to Mary and save
her a trip to the factory, but Frank said she could not have
it. On previous occasions she had got Mary’s pay envelope
for her but not from Frank.
J. M. Gantt gave testimony which was highly damaging
to Frank. He testified in substance as follows: He had
known Mary Phagan ever since she was a little girl. Frank
knew her too. One day she came into his (Gantt’s) office
to get her time corrected, and after she left Frank said,
“You seem to know Mary pretty well.” He had not pre-
viously told Frank that the girl’s name was Mary. He went
to the factory Saturday afternoon to get his shoes. When
Frank came out of the door and saw him he “jumped,”
“looked pale” and “hung his head.”
Gantt admitted on cross-examination that Frank had dis-
charged him on the previous April 7 for an alleged shortage
in the payroll and that when he testified at the coroner’s
inquest he had said nothing about Frank’s having known
Mary Phagan.
Mrs. J. A. White testified: She went to the factory Satur-
day morning about eleven-thirty to see her husband. Frank
permitted her to go up to the fourth floor, where her hus-
band was working, and she stayed there until 11:50. She
then left the factory. She returned at I 2:3o and again went
up to the fourth floor. When she talked to Frank at 11: 3o
he was in the outside office. When she went upstairs at
12:3o he was standing in the,’ outside office at the safe.
Frank came up to the fourth floor at one o’clock and said
that unless she wanted to stay until three o’clock she had
better leave because he was going to lunch and was locking
up the factory. She left shortly afterward, and as she passed
Frank’s office she saw him at his desk writing.
She concluded her testimony with a statement of which
much was to be made- in later argument. She said as she
was going out of the building she saw a Negro sitting on a
box on the first floor, just inside the door. On cross-exami-
nation she said she paid no particular attention to the man
and could not identify him.
Fourteen-year-old Monteen Stover gave damaging testi-
mony against Frank. She repeated the story she had told
the police. She was positive she reached the factory at
12:05 P.M. on Saturday. She waited in Frank’s office for
five minutes. Since he was not there she concluded that
he had gone for the day. She was sure of the time, she said,
because she had looked at the clock. She testified further
that she had intended to go to the ladies’ dressing room,
inside the metal room, but when she tried the door she
found it locked.
Albert McKnight-the husband of Mineola McKnight,
who was the Negro cook in the house where Frank lived
with his wife’s parents-gave testimony which was directly

contradictory to the statement Frank had made to the
police and the testimony he had given at the inquest. Mc-
Knight swore he was in the kitchen with his wife when
Frank came home about 1:3o P.M. and that Frank did not
eat any lunch. Frank, said McKnight, left the house after
five or ten minutes.
The State’s star witness, who was one of the last called,
was James Conley, the Negro. Conley told a long and star-
tling story: He worked days at the factory as a general handy
man, a roustabout. He had worked at the pencil factory
for a little over two years. On Friday afternoon, about
three o’clock, Frank came up to the fourth floor, where he
was working. Frank said he wanted him to come to the
factory Saturday morning at 8:3o because there was some
work for him to do on the second floor. He followed
Frank’s instructions and came to the factory about 8:3o on
the twenty-sixth and found Frank there. Frank said, “You
are a little early for what I want you to do ‘for me, but I
want you to watch for me like you have been doing on the
rest of the Saturdays.”
Conley explained Frank’s order by stating that on several
previous Saturdays and on Thanksgiving Day 1912 he had
stayed on the first floor by the door and watched while
Frank and “some young lady” were on the second floor
“chatting.” He and Frank had a code of signals by which
when the right lady came along Frank would “stomp” on
the floor and Conley would lock the door. When Frank
“got through with the lady” he would whistle, and this
meant that Conley should unlock the door so the lady
could get out. Conley said that when Frank told him he
didn’t need him for a while he left. He returned to the
factory at some time between lo:oo and 1O.03 A.M. He was
standing at the corner of the building when Frank came
out of the factory door, passed him and said he was going
to Montag Brothers but would be right back. Frank told
him that he should wait right where he was.

When Frank came back (Conley did not state the time)
both he and Frank walked to the front door of the factory
and stepped inside. Frank then showed him how to turn
the catch on the knob, on the inside of the door, so that
no one could get in from the outside. Then Frank pointed
to a little box near a trash barrel just inside the door and
gave hinm his instructions: He (Conley) should sit on the
box, keep out of sight as much as he could and keep his eyes
open. Later on, said Frank, there would be a young lady
come along, and she and Frank were “going to chat a
little.” Frank said that when she came he would “stomp”
as he had done before; then Conley should shut and lock
the door. Later he would whistle; then Conley would
know he was through and should unlock the door and come
upstairs to the office. This would give the young lady time
to get out.
Conley said he promised Frank to do as he was directed.
Frank then went upstairs. Conley told of seeing various
people come into and leave the factory. After these people
had come and gone he said he saw a girl, whom he after-
ward found out was Mary Phagan, come to the door, enter
the building and go upstairs. Later he heard footsteps go-
ing toward Frank’s office. After that he heard the footsteps
of two people. It sounded as if they were walking out of the
office toward the metal room. Shortly afterward he heard
a lady scream, and then he didn’t hear any more sounds.
The next person he saw, according to his testimony, was
Monteen Stover. He described what she wore. He said she
stayed in the factory for a short while; then she came down
the steps and left. After that he heard someone run out of
the metal room-running as if on tiptoes-and then he
heard somebody tiptoe back toward the metal room.
Following this, he said, he must have “kinda dozed off to
sleep.” The next thing he knew Frank was over his head
“stomping.” He got up and locked the door. Then he sat
on the box for a little while until he heard Frank whistle.

Conley did not attempt to fix the time of these sequences.
He said that when he heard the whistling he unlocked the
door and went upstairs. There he saw Frank standing at
the door of his office “shivering and trembling and rubbing
his hands.” His “face was red” and “he looked funny out
of his eyes.” In one of his hands, said Conley, Frank held a
piece of white cord. Conley said it was “just like this here
cord”-the one in evidence.
Conley continued: After he got to the top of the stairs
Frank asked him, “Did you see that little girl who passed
here just a while ago?” Conley replied he had seen one
girl come in and go out; and then another girl came in,
but she didn’t come down. Then Frank said, “Well, that
one that you say didn’t come back down, she came into my
office awhile ago and wanted to know something about her
work, and I went back there to see if the little girl’s work
had come, and I wanted to be with the little girl and she
refused me, and I struck her and I guess I struck her too
hard, and she fell and hit her head against something, and
I don’t know how bad she got hurt.” To this Frank added,
“Of course, you know I ain’t built like other men.”
Conley testified that Frank asked him to go back to the
metal room and bring her out so that they could put her
somewhere, and to hurry; there would be money in it for
him. Conley said that he then went back to the metal
room and saw the girl lying on the floor with a rope
around her neck. Another piece of cloth was around her
head to catch the blood. He noticed the clock at that
time; it was four minutes to one. He saw that the girl was
dead and immediately ran back to Frank and told him so.
Frank said, “Shh,” and told him he should go back to the
cotton box, get a piece of cloth, wrap it around her and
bring her out.
Conley said that he did as he was directed, but when he
tried to lift the body he found that it was too heavy for him
to carry. He returned to Frank and told him that he could

not move the body alone; Frank would have to help him.
Together they carried the girl’s body to the elevator, and
after Frank had got the key and opened the elevator door
they put the body in the cab and ran the elevator to the base-
ment. There they rolled the body out onto the floor and
left it. Then they went back upstairs to Frank’s office.
Conley said they had hardly reached the office when
Frank jumped up and said, “My God! Here is Emma Clark
Freeman and Corinthia Hall. Come over here, Jim; I
have got to put you in this here wardrobe.” Frank put him
into the wardrobe, and he stayed there until the women
left-it seemed a long time to him. After the women left
the office Frank opened the wardrobe and said, “You are in
a tight place; you done very well.”
Conley continued his testimony: They sat down and
Frank handed him one cigarette and then the broken pack-
age which contained several more. Frank said “Can you
write?” He answered, “A little bit.” Frank gave him a
lead pencil and dictated a number of notes. The first notes
evidently did not satisfy Frank, but after four or five at-
tempts he (Conley) wrote a note which Frank “laid on his
desk” and “looked at smiling.” Frank “pulled out a nice
little roll of greenbacks” and said, “Here is $2oo.” Frank
looked at him and added, “Now, you go down in the base-
ment and take a lot of trash and burn that ‘package’ that is
in front of the furnace.” He told Frank that he was afraid
to go down there by himself. Frank asked him for the roll
of bills, and he gave them back to Frank.
After that, according to Conley, there was the following
conversation: Frank said, “Why should I hang? I have
wealthy people in Brooklyn.” Conley said, “What about
me?” Frank replied, “Don’t you worry about anything; you
just come back to work on Monday morning like you don’t
know anything and keep your mouth shut. If you get
caught I will get you out on bond and send you away. You
can come back this evening and do it.” Conley asked if he

was going to get any money. Frank said he was going home
but would be back in about forty minutes and fix every-
thing. Conley told Frank, “All right,” he would be back
in about forty minutes.
After that, Conley said, he went across the street to the
nearest saloon. When he went to take a cigarette out of the
package Frank had given him he found it contained also
two one-dollar bills and two silver quarters. He had a drink,
went home, fell asleep and did not wake up until six-thirty
the next morning. The next time he saw Frank was the
following Tuesday morning on the fourth floor of the fac-
tory. Frank passed him and said, “Keep your mouth shut.
If you had come back here Saturday and done what I told
you there wouldn’t have been any trouble.”
Conley, when asked what Frank had meant by his state-
ment that he was “not built like other men,” testified the
reason Frank had said that was “because he had seen him
(Frank) in a position I haven’t seen any other man that has
got children.” On two or three occasions before Thanksgiv-
ing he had seen Frank in the office “with a lady in his office,
and she was sitting in a chair and she had her clothes up to
here-” indicating above his waist-“and he was down on
his knees, and she had her hands on Mr. Frank.” At an-
other time he had seen Frank in the back room with a
young woman lying on a table.
Conley testified that sometimes when Frank had a woman
with him and he (Conley) was “watching” for him a man
by the name of Dalton was also there with a woman; that
Frank, Dalton and the two women frequently had soft
drinks and beer in Frank’s private office. Dalton, he said,
occasionally handed him a half dollar or a quarter after
the parties were over. At one such time Frank gave him
fifty cents and told him to keep his mouth shut.
Conley was subjected to a long and grueling cross-exam-
ination. Under pressure he said Daisy Hopkins was the
name of one of the women who had been with Frank and

Dalton. He told of an occasion when Frank and Dalton
had gone into the basement with another woman whom he
did not know. Conley said Frank once talked to him about
watching within the hearing of another Negro employee
who responded to the nickname “Snowball.” He repeated
his direct examination as to the persons he had seen come
into and leave the factory Saturday morning, but he said
he had no recollection of having seen either Mrs. White or
the office boy, Alonzo Mann. He denied having told a Mrs.
Carson and a Miss Fuss that “Frank was as innocent as the
angels in Heaven” or of having ever admitted to anyone
that he (Conley) had killed a girl.
Conley admitted that he had lied to Scott in a statement
made shortly after his arrest and that he had lied to the
police in at least four statements prior to his alleged con-
fession. For nearly a month after the murder he had main-
tained, in spite of almost continuous questioning, that he
knew nothing whatever about the murder. He said he had
done this to protect Frank, because Frank was a white man
and his boss and had been good to him-had not docked
him for some of the times he had been drunk and had
failed to punch the clock. It was brought out that Conley
had been arrested and convicted a half-dozen times for
drunkenness and disorderly conduct and had served several
jail sentences. He admitted that the police had questioned
him night and day and would not let him sleep, but he de-
nied that they had abused or threatened him to force his
On redirect examination Conley testified that he had
seen Mary’s mesh bag in Frank’s office and had seen Frank
put it in his safe. He described the bag as “a wire-looking,
whitish pocketbook.”
The impression created by a witness on the jury which
hears and sees him cannot be read on the printed page; but
by judging from what he reads in cold type the disinter-
ested investigator can only conclude that Conley and his

loose and disconnected story were wholly discredited by
Rosser’s devastating cross-examination.
Conley’s story was corroborated to a degree, however, by
the testimony of Dalton, the man he had named as Frank’s
companion in some of his unmoral relationships. Dalton
testified he knew Frank and Conley. He said that he and
Frank had frequently had relations with women at the fac-
tory and that on such occasions Conley had acted as their
“lookout.” He had given Conley a half dollar or a quarter
probably a half-dozen times. He also said there were a
stretcher and an old cot in the basement. The cross-exam-
ination of Dalton was scathing. He was badly confused,
repeatedly contradicted himself and was made to admit that
he had been convicted and had served time for larceny in
the state penitentiary.
Mrs. White was recalled and asked if she could identify
Conley as the Negro she saw sitting on the box at the foot
of the stairs on Saturday. She was unable to do so.
The statement Frank first made to the police and his
testimony at the coroner’s inquest, authenticated by the
testimony of the stenographic reporters who took them,
were offered and received in evidence.
Two witnesses called by the State proved more helpful
to the defense than to the prosecution. Darley, the general
superintendent of the pencil company, testified there never
had been a bed, cot or sofa in the factory. Halloway, the
Negro day watchman, corroborated Frank’s statement: He
saw Frank arrive at the factory Saturday morning at eight-
thirty and go to his office. Frank left about 1o:oo A.M. to
go to Montag Brothers. He returned a few minutes before
ii:oo and went immediately to his office on the second
floor. Miss Hall, the stenographer, was already there. At
Frank’s suggestion he left the factory for the day about
11:45. A short distance from the factory he met Mrs. Free-
man and Corinthia Hall. One of them asked him if Frank
was in his office, and he answered that Frank was. Hallo-

way further testified he had frequently seen bloodstains in
and near the entrance to the lhdies’ dressing room in the
metal department and that potash and haskoline-both
white substances-were often accidentally spilled and
smeared on the floor.
Both Halloway and Darley declared there was no lock on
the metal-room door. Both also testified they saw nothing
of Conley on Saturday. They said they saw him Monday
morning; his furtive actions made them more suspicious
of him than of anyone else. They had never seen Frank
“jolly” Conley or act familiarly toward him. Halloway did
admit, reluctantly, that Conley did not always “punch the
clock” as the rest of them did; he did about as he pleased
and got his pay just the same.
The foregoing summarizes the State’s case in chief.

Frank’s attorneys properly concluded that the successful
defense of their client required (1) corroboration of the
previous statements he had made to the police and at the
coroner’s inquest, and the statement he would later make
to the jury; (2) testimony which would so completely dis-
credit Conley and Dalton that the jury would be com-
pelled to reject their evidence; (3) testimony which would
negative the inferences to be drawn from the testimony of
the State’s witnesses, particularly that of Lee, Gantt, Helen
Ferguson, Monteen Stover and the police officers; and (4)
testimony which would establish Frank’s general reputa-
tion as a law-abiding citizen and his particular reputation
for morality and uncriticizable conduct toward the female
factory employees.
The record reveals a thoroughness in investigation and
pretrial preparation which resulted in the production of a
mass of evidence-nearly 20o witnesses-to satisfy these re-
quirements. Neither Frank nor his attorney ever contended
that there had been any abridgment of his constitutional
rights to summon witnesses in his own behalf and make a
full and complete defense.

These were Frank’s contentions: He had got to the fac-
tory on Saturday the twenty-sixth at 8:3o A.m. He was in
his office until 9:3o or 9:40 when he left to go to Montag
Brothers. He returned to the factory and went to his office
at io:55. He stayed there continuously until 12:45 or
12:5o. He left the factory shortly after 1:oo and returned
just before 3:oo. He remained there until about 6:oo when
he left for home. He arrived at his home about 6:25, had
dinner shortly afterward and retired at 1o:3o. He knew
nothing of the crime until he heard about it the next
More than twenty witnesses were called to corroborate
these place-and-time sequences. Mattie Hall, the stenog-
rapher borrowed from Montag Brothers, Robert Schiff,
the assistant superintendent of the pencil factory, Corinthia
Hall, Emma Clark Freeman and the office boy Alonzo
Mann swore that Frank was in his office on the second floor
from eleven o’clock until noon and that during that hour
he talked to several people. Lemmie Quinn, one of the
factory foremen, testified he saw Frank in his office about
12:20 P.M. White and Denham, the carpenters, testified
Frank came up to the fourth floor about one o’clock and told
them he was locking up to go to lunch. One Helen Kerns,
an employee of Montag Brothers, testified she saw Frank
at Alabama and Whitehall streets, a short distance from
the pencil factory, at i:io. A Mrs. Levy, who lived across
the street from Frank’s home, testified she saw him get off
a streetcar between one and two o’clock and cross the
street to his home. Frank’s father-in-law and mother-in-law
testified Frank came in at 1:2o, ate his lunch and left about
Three witnesses corroborated Frank’s statement that he
called his brother-in-law, Ursenbach, on the telephone at
1:3o or 1:40 P.M. to say that he could not go to the ball
game. Six witnesses swore they saw Frank at two o’clock.
Two of them testified they saw him get on a streetcar which
was traveling in the general direction of the pencil factory.

A forelady at the factory and her mother testified they saw
Frank looking at the parade in downtown Atlanta between
-2:3o and 2:35. Denham and White testified they saw him
at 2:50 when he returned to the factory.
Frank’s father-in-law and mother-in-law testified Frank
came home for dinner about 6:3o P.M. Dinner was served
at seven o’clock. About eight o’clock some friends of theirs
came in to play cards. Frank did not play but read the
newspapers and retired at 10:3o. The four persons identi-
fied by Frank’s parents-in-law as the persons who came in
to play cards testified they arrived at the Frank home about
eight o’clock and saw Frank there. According to their
recollections, however, Frank excused himself about nine
o’clock and went upstairs.
Twelve of the fifteen witnesses who saw Frank after one
o’clock testified they were close to him and noticed no
bruises or scratches on his face or hands, and he appeared
and acted as usual.
With the exception of Quinn the testimony of none of
these witnesses was weakened by the solicitor general’s
cross-examination. As bearing on the interest of the sev-
eral witnesses, it was developed that all who were not em-
ployees of Montag Brothers or the pencil company were
relatives by marriage or close friends of Frank. Quinn,
under a slashing cross-examination, failed to stand up to
his declaration made on direct examination that he had
seen Frank in his office at 12:2o P.M. Quinn was bitterly
denounced in the State’s closing arguments as a perjurer.
Mineola McKnight, the Negro cook in the Frank house-
hold, contradicted the testimony of her husband, who had
been a State’s witness. She swore that her husband was not
at the Frank residence at any time on Saturday. Frank, she
said, came home to lunch about 1:2o P.M. and left about
2:00. She next saw him when he ate dinner with the family
at night. She said the police tried to get her to say that
Frank would not allow his wife to sleep the night of the

twenty-sixth and wanted to get a gun and shoot himself;
that that was not true; that the police took her to the station
house in a patrol wagon and locked her up, and she then
told the police anything they wanted her to say so they
would let her out of jail; that any statement she might have
made to them was untrue. She denied that Mrs. Selig,
Frank’s mother-in-law, had raised her wages or given her
any extra money since Frank’s arrest. Mrs. Selig corrobo-
rated this statement.
Emil Selig, Frank’s father-in-law, testified in refutation
of Newt Lee’s testimony that he had frequently heard
Frank call up the night watchman at the factory from his
home at night.
To account for Frank’s presence at the factory on Satur-
day afternoon three witnesses testified to the volume of end-
of-the-month work Frank had to do. They said that it
would have taken a diligent and skilled bookkeeper from
three and one-fourth to three and one-half hours to com-
plete it. The stenographer Miss Hall, in addition to her
testimony corroborative of Frank’s story, testified that Frank
asked her to stay and help him with his work Saturday after-
noon. She told him she could not do so on account of a
previous engagement.
Magnolia Kennedy, one of the factory workers, testified
that when the girls lined up for their pay on Friday she was
right behind Helen Ferguson. Helen Ferguson did not ask
for Mary’s pay envelope; moreover, although Frank some-
times “paid off” he had not paid the employees on Friday
the twenty-fifth. Schiff, the assistant superintendent, testi-
fied that he, not Frank, paid the employees on Friday April
25. He said that Helen Ferguson did not ask for Mary’s pay
and that one employee could not get the pay envelope of
another without a written order.
W. M. Matthews and W. T. Hollis, motorman and con-
ductor of the English Avenue streetcar, testified that Mary
Phagan was a passenger on their car on April 26 and that

she got off at Hunter and Broad streets, about a block from
the pencil factory. They said their scheduled arrival time
was 12:07Y2 .M.11 and that the car was on time on April
26. A superintendent of the streetcar company corroborated
their testimony as to the schedule and running time be-
tween various points. The testimony of the conductor and
motorman, so far as it was designed to establish the exact
time Mary Phagan got off the car, was considerably weak-
ened by the cross-examination of the superintendent, who
testified that the English Avenue schedule was a difficult
one to maintain and that the company frequently had oc-
casion to suspend trainmen for “running ahead of sched-
Two civil engineers were called to testify they made ac-
curate measurements of the distances between the front
door of the factory and certain street intersections and of
the length of time it would take, walking at a fair pace, to
cover those distances. The distance from the pencil factory
to Marietta and Forsyth streets was i,oi6 feet, and it took
them four and one-half minutes to walk that distance. The
distance from the factory to Whitehall and Alabama streets
was 831 feet, and it took them three and one-half minutes
to cover that distance. The distance from Broad and
Hunter streets was 333 feet, and to cover that distance it
took them one and three-quarters minutes.
More than a dozen of the witnesses called gave testimony
either to impeach Conley or discredit his story. Nine wit-
nesses swore that his general reputation for truth and ve-
racity was bad and that they would not believe him under
oath. Eight defense witnesses testified they were at the fac-
tory at various times Saturday morning and at no time did

11 Much was made of the exact time Mary Phagan left the streetcar at
Broad and Hunter, or Broad and Marietta, streets. If the time of the arrival
of the car was 12:07Y2 P.Nr. and it took three or four minutes to reach the
factory, Monteen Stover, according to her own positive testimony, would
have left the factory before Mary Phagan arrived, and Frank’s absence from
his office between i=:o5 and su:io would lose its significance.

they see Conley. A Mrs. Carson and her daughter testified
they saw Conley at the factory on Monday morning. He
told them he had been so drunk all day Saturday he could
not remember where he was or what he did. Conley told
them that “Frank was as innocent as a child.” Another
factory worker, a Miss Fuss, testified she talked to Conley
on the Wednesday following the murder, and he said that
“Frank was as innocent as the angels in Heaven.” These
and other witnesses who saw Conley on Monday, Tuesday
and Wednesday following the murder testified that he was
nervous, avoided answering questions and acted suspi-
Several witnesses swore that Conley could read and write.
One of the girls testified that on Monday he borrowed
some money from her to buy newspapers and that he was
so excited he bought two copies of the same edition.
A reporter for one of the Atlanta papers testified he
talked with Conley on May 3 1–after Conley had made his
confession-and Conley told him he finished his work and
left the factory at i:3o P.M. on April 26 and that he had
never seen any mesh bag.
Some of the factory help testified they were regularly or
frequently at the plant on Saturday afternoons and at no
time saw Conley there. Witnesses did testify that Con-
ley was at the factory on Thanksgiving Day 1912, sweeping
up and doing his regular work, but they said Frank left the
building shortly after twelve o’clock on that day and did
not return. They also testified that Frank usually worked
Saturday afternoons, but there were never any women in
his office, nor was there any drinking there. None of them
had ever seen Dalton in the factory on Saturday after-
noons. They all testified that to their knowledge none of
the outside or inner doors of the factory were ever locked
on Saturdays, that Frank’s office was always open and that
the blinds and shades in his office were never drawn.
Daisy Hopkins, named by Conley as one of the girls Dal-

ton brought to the factory for the Saturday-afternoon as-
signations, swore that she had never been at the factory
with Dalton or anyone else, that she did not know where
the basement was and that she had never spoken to Frank.
She admitted on cross-examination that she had been ar-
rested and charged with fornication but had never been
tried. Two other women who had been suggested in the
State’s case as companions of Dalton at the factory took the
stand; one denied that she had known either Dalton or
Frank, the other denied that she had ever been at the fac-
tory with Dalton. Eight witnesses were called who declared
that Dalton’s reputation for truth and veracity was bad
and that they would not believe him under oath.
Gordon Bailey, the Negro worker at the factory known
as “Snowball,” denied that he had ever seen Frank and
Conley talking together or heard Frank say anything to
Conley about “watching” for him.
Four factory employees testified that when the elevator
ran it made a very loud noise and jarred the floor when it
stopped. Denman and White, the carpenters who were
working on the fourth floor of the factory all day Saturday
up to three o’clock, corroborated this testimony and also
testified that from where they were they could have seen
the wheels in the upper part of the elevator shaft turn and
that those wheels did not turn at any time Saturday while
they were there.
A Dr. Owens testified he conducted a series of experi-
ments to determine how long it would have taken Conley
and Frank to do what Conley said they did after twelve
o’clock Saturday noon. He said the actions described could
not have been performed in less than thirty-six and one-half
minutes and that was not allowing any time for the dic-
tation and writing of the notes as testified to by Conley. He
said from twelve to sixteen minutes would have to be added
for that action.
A number of factory employees testified they frequently

saw splotches of blood on the second floor in the metal
room and in and around the ladies’ dressing room. The
operators often got their fingers cut or crushed in the ma-
chines and bled. The floors were never kept clean and
white substances-potash and “haskoline”-which were
used in the factory were frequently spread on the floor to
cover the blood spots. One witness, a machinist, testified to
two specific instances when employees working around the
machinery had been quite badly injured and suffered a
serious loss of blood. Lemmie Quinn, the metal-depart-
ment foreman, testified the girls “fixed their hair” in the
metal room, and many times their combings were scat-
tered around the room.
The defense called three physicians-one of them was a
professor of physiology and physiological chemistry at the
Atlanta College of Physicians and Surgeons-who testified
it might take as long as four and one-half hours for cabbage
to digest and pass from the stomach into the intestines. It
all depended, they said, on mastication, and from an exami-
nation of the stomach contents one could not tell within
two and one-half hours how long the digestive process had
been going on before death.
Three other physicians testified they had examined
Frank and that he was a sexually normal person. They also
testified there was nothing significant in the post-mortem
finding that the epithelium had apparently been torn loose
from the walls of the dead girl’s vagina. Such a condition,
they said, could have been due to the embalming of the
body and did not indicate violence to the vagina before
Fifty-six witnesses-associates of Frank at Cornell Uni-
versity and in Brooklyn and Atlanta-testified that his gen-
eral reputation as an upright, law-abiding citizen was good.
Forty-nine of the women employees at the pencil factory
testified that not only was his general reputation good but
also that his reputation for moral rectitude was good. Spe-

cifically they said that they had never heard of his being
otherwise than a gentleman where women were concerned
or of his ever “having done anything wrong.” The testi-
mony of one of these witnesses did not stand up too well on
cross-examination. She testified that on two or three occa-
sions she had heard “remarks” about Frank’s coming into
the women’s dressing room and staring at the girls and that
she herself was in the dressing room on one such occasion
when he came in.
The defense was concluded with Frank’s statement.12
While it was very lengthy-eighty pages of typewritten rec-
ord-it added very little beyond details to the statements he
had previously made. The only significant variation was
his attempt to avoid a direct clash with Monteen Stover,
who, it will be remembered, testified in the State’s case
that when she went to Frank’s office at 12:o5 P.m. he was
not there and that she waited until 12: 1o and when he did
not appear concluded he was not in the factory and left.
In Frank’s statement to the jury he said that to the best of
his recollection from the time the twelve-o’clock whistle
blew’3 until 12:45 when he went upstairs to talk to the
carpenters he did not leave his inner office. “But it is pos-
sible,” said Frank, “that to answer a call of nature or to
urinate I may have gone to the toilet. Those are things a
man does unconsciously and cannot tell how many times
nor when.”
The defense had made a strong case. It was destined,
however, to be badly riddled by rebuttal. Under the law
the State could not attack the general or specific reputation
of the defendant until the defendant first put his reputation
in issue. Frank had done that. He had produced more than
1oo character witnesses. The State had a score of witnesses

( 12 Under Georgia practice a defendant in a criminal case is not a com-
petent witness in his own behalf. He may. however, if he desires, make a
sworn or unsworn statement, but he is not subject to cross-examination.
13 This was a slip on Frank’s part, and he was to hear from it in the
solicitor general’s summation. April 26 was a holiday. The factory was
closed, and the whistle did not blow that day. )

in readiness to meet this mass of negative testimony with
positive testimony of the most damaging character.

The State called more than seventy witnesses in rebuttal.
Gantt testified he knew exactly how long the work Frank
had to do for the end-of-the-month records would take;
that he had seen Frank do the entire job in an hour and a
One R. L. Craven, a friend of Mineola McKnight’s hus-
band, swore he went to the police station with McKnight
to see if they could have her released from police custody.
He was present, he said, when she made and signed a state-
ment to the police. In that statement she said that when
Frank came home on Saturday evening ‘he showed signs
that he had been drinking; that after he went to bed he
did not rest well, made his wife get out of bed and wanted
her to get a pistol so he could shoot himself. Craven’s
testimony was corroborated by George Gordon, a lawyer,
who said he went to the police station with a writ of habeas
corpus to get Mineola McKnight out of jail, and she told
him she had made a complete and true statement to the
police of everything she knew. Another witness who worked
for the same company as Albert McKnight testified he went
to the station with McKnight to see Mrs. McKnight, who
told him that Mrs. Frank and Mrs. Selig had given her
a lot of extra money and cautioned her not to talk.
Two men, Tillander and Graham, who had gone to the
factory Saturday morning to get their sons’ money, testified
they arrived there about 11:40 A.M. Frank, they said, was in
his inner office. The stenographer was in the outside office.
They had a few minutes’ conversation with Frank, got their
boys’ pay envelopes and left. Both said that as they entered
the factory from the street they saw a Negro in the dark
passageway. They asked him where Frank’s office was.
Neither would identify Conley as the man they saw, but
both said he was about the same size as Conley.
Another witness testified he saw Conley a

Forsyth and Hunter streets between one and two o’clock
on Saturday April 26, and so far as he could observe Con-
ley was not drunk.
One of the male factory workers testified he frequently
saw Conley at the office when he came there on Saturday
afternoons around two o’clock.
Eight witnesses testified that Daisy Hopkins’ reputation
for truth and veracity was bad. One of them said he had
seen her at the factory talking to Frank. Another testified
to having had an assignation with her at 8:30 P.m. on a
Saturday, and she told him she had been at the pencil fac-
tory during the afternoon.
Fourteen witnesses testified that Dalton’s reputation for
truth and veracity was good. Another witness swore he had
seen Dalton come into the factory with a woman in July
1912 on a Saturday afternoon between one and two o’clock.
Six employees of the Atlanta Streetcar Company testi-
fied. The consensus of their testimony was that the English
Avenue car was scheduled to arrive at Broad and Marietta
streets at 12:07, not 12:o07Y P.m., and that it frequently ar-
rived ahead of schedule as much as four or five minutes
because the trainmen wanted that additional time for din-
ner and a layover. One witness testified he was at the cor-
ner of Forsyth and Marietta streets on Saturday April 26
when the English Avenue car operated by Matthews and
Hollis arrived at 12:03. Another witness, one McCoy, testi-
fied he saw Mary Phagan in front of Number 12 Forsyth
Street. She was walking toward the pencil factory, and it
was not later than “three or four minutes after twelve.”
L. T. Kendrick, a factory employee, testified there was
no unusual noise in the operation of the elevator, and he
did not believe one could have heard the elevator running
if one were hammering on one of the floors some distance
away from the shaft.
One of the witnesses referred to in the defense testimony
as having been hurt by one of the machines in the metal

room testified that the blood from his wound dripped on
the floor alongside the machine where he was working.
None of it was anywhere near the ladies’ dressing room, he
Three witnesses, employees or former employees of the
pencil company, testified they had frequently seen Frank
talk to Mary Phagan and that he called her by her first
name. One of them said that during her employment in
March 1913 these conversations occurred two or three times
a day, and that she had seen Frank “standing pretty close”
to Mary, “leaning over her face” and “have his hand on her
shoulder.” Another witness told of an occasion in the mid-
dle of March 1913. Mary, this witness said, was going to
work and Frank stopped her. Mary told him she had her
work to do, but Frank said he was the superintendent of the
factory and wanted to talk to her. Mary “kind of backed
off,” but Frank kept following her, still talking to her.
Twenty girls, former employees of the pencil company,
testified that Frank’s reputation for lascivious conduct was
bad. None of these was cross-examined, a significant cir-
cumstance of which much was made later in the State’s
arguments. One of these witnesses testified to an occasion
when she was in the dressing room with another one of
the women employees. While they were undressing “Frank
stuck his head inside the door and stood there and
laughed.” Another testified that on one occasion Frank
went into the dressing room with one of the factory girls
and stayed for some time.
Three physicians who had not previously appeared in
the case were called. Two of them were recognized stomach
specialists. They refuted the testimony of the defense wit-
nesses, declaring it was possible from an examination of the
stomach’s contents after death to tell at what stage digestion
had been arrested and that the process of the digestion of
the cabbage in Mary Phagan’s stomach had ceased an hour
after she had eaten it. The third physician, who had also

participated in the post-mortem examination, testified that
in his opinion the epithelium had been torn loose from the
walls of the vagina before death.
There was very little surrebuttal. Frank made a supple-
mental statement denying the testimony that he had forced
his conversation upon Mary Phagan and that she had
backed away from him. It was possible, he said, that on
some occasion he might have passed through the metal
room and talked to the girl about her work, but he never
called her by her first name because he did not know it. He
positively denied the testimony of the two factory girls by
saying that he had never looked or gone into the ladies’
dressing room.
Four witnesses were called by the defense to testify that
George Kendley, a streetcar-company employee and one of
the rebuttal witnesses, had publicly expressed himself as
violently antagonistic to Frank-that “he was nothing but
a damned Jew and should be taken out and hung,” that he
was as “guilty as a snake” and that “ninety per cent of the
best people in the state think he is guilty and ought to
hang.” It was on this note-a most unfortunate one-that
the evidence closed.

Special Assistant Solicitor Hooper commenced the sum-
mations for the State. He spoke for over two hours. He
carefully reviewed the prosecution’s testimony. That testi-
mony, he said, was consistent and plausible. The murder
had occurred in the metal room sometime between 12:05
and 12:2o P.M. Frank had made indecent proposals to Mary
Phagan or had attacked her, and when she repulsed him he
had struck her and knocked her down. In falling she had
hit her head against something which had rendered her
unconscious. Then.Frank, in a panic of fear lest she re-
cover consciousness and accuse him of having attempted to
rape her, strangled her to death with a piece of cord which
he picked up in the metal room. Frank, fearing discovery
and not knowing what to do with the body, left the metal

room, locked the door and returned to his office. At 12:30
he might possibly have been seen by Mrs. White or Lemmie
Quinn. After Quinn had left, Frank tried to get everybody
out of the building and that was the reason for his trip to
the fourth floor at 12:45. It was after this he called Conley,
and between 12:5o and 1:2o they removed the body to the
Hooper argued that Conley had told the truth; Conley
had no motive for doing otherwise. Hooper laid great
stress on the fact that defense counsel had not cross-exam-
ined any of the twenty young women, called by the State,
who had sworn that Frank’s reputation for lewd, lascivious
conduct was bad. The prosecutor supplied the reason:

The conduct of counsel in this case . . . in refusing to
cross-examine these twenty young ladies refutes effectively
and absolutely [the testimony] that Frank had a good char-
acter…. If this man had a good character no power on
earth would have kept him and his counsel from asking
these girls where they got their information and why it was
they said the defendant was a man of bad character….
I have already shown you that under the law they had a right
to go into that character, but you saw that on cross-exam-
ination they dared not do it. And their failure [to cross-
examine] … is a circumstance against them…. You know,
as twelve honest men seeking to get at the truth, that the
reason these able gentlemen did not ask “those harebrained
fanatics,” as Mr. Arnold called them before they ever went
on the witness stand-those girls whose appearance is as
good as any they brought, those girls that you know by their
manner are telling the truth, those girls who were unim-
peached and unimpeachable-you know the reason they did
not cross-examine them. They did not dare to do so!

Hooper dosed with the declaration that the guilt of
Frank was as clear as the noonday sun and demanded a ver-
dict of death as the only penalty that would “fit this horrible
Both Arnold and Rosser argued at length for the de-
fendant. Their combined arguments lasted better than.

a day. In blistering terms Rosser scored Conley, Dalton,
Scott and the police officers. They were perjurers and sub-
orners of perjury bent only on the destruction of Frank.
Arnold followed much the same line. His attack on Conley
was savage. “My brother Hooper,” declared Arnold, “says
that Conley had nothing to hold him on the stand but the
truth. My Godl He had the desire to save his own neck.
What stronger motive could a man have on the stand? The
whole case against Frank is based on Jim Conley’s testi-
mony. If the prosecution can’t hobble to a conviction on
that broken crutch, then they know they will fail. Before
I get through I am going to show you there was never such
a frame-up against a man since God made the world as that
which has been concocted against this defendant.”
Arnold faced the question of religious prejudice square-
ly. “Leo Frank,” he said, “comes from a race of people who
have made money and that has made some people envious.
I tell everybody, all within the hearing of my voice, that if
Frank had not been a Jew he never would have been in-
dicted. That nigger Conley has been brought into court to
tell his long tale; not corroborated but prompted. I am
asking my kind of people to give this man fair play….
This is a case that has been brought about by the story of
a monstrous perjurer by the name of Conley, and they ask
you to believe this nigger against Frank.” Arnold then
dwelt at length on the ioo or more witnesses who had come
to testify to Frank’s good character; no man with such testi-
monials could be guilty of the fiendish crime which had
been charged against him, said Arnold.
Dorsey concluded the summations. The solicitor gen-
eral attempted no detailed defense of Conley, nor did he
reply to Arnold’s repeated characterizations of him as “a
lousy nigger,” “a dirty, black nigger” and “a lying nigger
scoundrel.” Instead he countered with an argument well
calculated to appeal to the white Georgians on the jury:
The job of the police and the prosecution would have been
infinitely easier had they been able to unearth evidence

to fasten the crime on Conley. Conley was a “nigger”-
shiftless, penniless, friendless-with a chain-gang record.
Frank was a white man with powerful and influential rela-
tives and friends who were prepared to spend and had spent
thousands of dollars in his defense.
Dorsey repudiated the suggestion that Frank’s religion
had had anything to do with his indictment or prosecution.
He outdid Arnold in his tributes to the Jewish people and
in citing their contributions through the ages to the ad-
vance of civilization. He argued, with great eloquence and
persuasiveness, the testimony of Lee, Gantt, Monteen
‘Stover, the police and the witnesses who testified to
Frank’s relations with women and declared that that evi-
dence, even without the testimony of Conley, established
Frank’s guilt.
Frank’s defense, declared Dorsey, was negative-over
1oo witnesses testified that he bore a good reputation and
that they had never heard anything against him. In the
face of positive evidence of criminal conduct such testi-
mony, said Dorsey, was utterly worthless. He recalled the
cases of Oscar Wilde, “an Irish knight, a scholar, a literary
man, brilliant, the author of works that will live through
the ages,” of Abe Ruef, “a Jew, the boss of San Francisco,
respected and honored,” of McCue of Charlottesville, “a
man of such reputation that his fellow citizens had ele-
vated him to the head of their municipality, and yet he
tired of his wife and shot her to death in a bath tub,” of
Richeson, “the Boston preacher who had seduced a poor
servant girl,” of Beatty of Richmond, “a man of good repu-
tation from one of the oldest and finest families” who had.
murdered his wife, of Crippen, “an eminent physician of
England,” who had murdered his wife that he might elope
with his secretary. All of these, said Dorsey, had good repu-
tations, yet all were proved to have committed despicable
crimes, and their good reputations did not avail to save
them from the consequences.
Dorsey dosed with a stirring plea to the jurors to base

their verdict on the evidence of what had happened in the
pencil factory on Saturday April 26, 1913. That evidence,
he said, pointed unmistakably to Frank as the defiler and
murderer of Mary Phagan.

At the conclusion of the summations and before Judge
Roan began his charge, Defense Counsel Arnold asked that
the jury be excused. The jury was withdrawn and the de-
fense formally moved the Court to declare a mistrial. In
that motion it was charged that the conduct of the spec-
tators throughout the trial had been “disgraceful.” They
had frequently applauded statements of the solicitor gen-
eral and rulings of the Court which were adverse to Frank.
Repeated pleas of the defense to clear the courtroom had
been denied. Large crowds, unable to get into the court-
room, had gathered daily in front of the courthouse and, in
the hearing of the jury, had loudly cheered Solicitor Gen-
eral Dorsey whenever he entered and left the building.
These demonstrations were designed and tended to intim-
idate the jury and influence its verdict. The Court over-
ruled the motion, declaring that the crowds and the noise
were inseparable from any trial in which the public inter-
est and curiosity had been aroused. Judge Roan did, how-
ever, clear the courtroom on the last day of the trial.
The summations were concluded about noon on Aug-
ust 25. Although the courtroom had been cleared hun-
dreds of persons stood in the streets outside the courthouse
awaiting the outcome of the case. There was no disturb-
ance; rather, an ominous quiet. Before Judge Roan com-
menced his charge to the jury he summoned counsel into
private conference and suggested the possibility of danger
to the prisoner and his counsel if the jury should dis-
agree or return a verdict of not guilty. He asked, in the
interest of avoiding possible trouble, that counsel agree
that the prisoner need not be present when the verdict was
received and the jury polled. In the absence of, and with-
out the knowledge of, the defendant both sides consented.

The judge then proceeded with his charge to the jury.
It was a simply worded, dispassionate statement of the law
of the case; its impartiality was attested by the fact that
very few of the numerous assignments of error on appeal
attacked the charge and such of them as were argued were
clearly shown to have been without merit.
The jury was out for a little more than two hours. Nei-
ther Frank nor his counsel was present in the courtroom
when the verdict was received. When the verdict-guilty
of murder in the first degree-was pronounced, and before
more than one juror could be polled, there was such a roar
of applause from the crowd outside that the polling could
not go on. A semblance of order was restored, but even
then the continuing noise was such that it was difficult for
the Court to hear the answers of the jurors although he was
only ten feet away from them.
Thus ended the longest and most celebrated trial in the
history of Georgia.
Defendant’s counsel urged over ioo different grounds
for a new trial. Judge Roan held the motion under advise-
ment for more than two months. When he handed down
his ruling on October 31 h� declared the case had troubled
him more than any case he had ever tried. He said that
while personally he was not thoroughly convinced of
Frank’s guilt the jury had undoubtedly been so convinced;
that, after all, the jury, under the law, was the judge of the
facts, and he felt it to be his duty to overrule the motion.
Frank was sentenced to death by hanging.


And now commenced Frank’s long fight through the up-
per courts. Exhaustive and able briefs were filed in the Su-
preme Court of Georgia. That Court, on February 17,
1914, handed down its decision affirming the judgment of
the lower Court. Two of the six justices dissented.14 The
14 141 Ga. 243.

date for the execution of the sentence, which had been
postponed on appeal, was fixed for April 17.
On April 16 an extraordinary motion in the nature of a
petition for a new trial was presented to the Supreme Court
of Georgia. It was taken under advisement, and the date
of execution again postponed. On November 14 the Court
denied the motion. Another motion in the nature of a
writ of error, which, if allowed, would have nullified the
judgment of the lower Court, was immediately filed. This,
too, was overruled.
All of the approaches to the state courts having been
closed, resort was now had to the Federal courts. Applica-
tions for writs of error were successively presented to Su-
preme Court Justices Lamar and Holmes and lastly to the
full bench of the Supreme Court of the United States. All
were denied. One last hope remained-a petition for a writ
of habeas corpus based on the ground that errors in the
conduct of the trial in the state court amounted to a depri-
vation of the defendant’s liberty without the “due process
of law” guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States. Such a petition was
filed in the United States District Court of Georgia. It was
heard by District Judge W. T. Newman and denied De-
cember 21, 1914. On application made, Supreme Court
Justice Lamar granted a certificate of importance so that
the matter could be reviewed by the Supreme Court of the
United States.
On April 19, 1915, the Supreme Court of the United
States handed down its decision affirming the judgment of
the lower Federal Court denying the writ.15 Two of the
justices dissented. The opinion of the majority held that
Frank had been formally accused of a crime cognizable
solely by the courts of the State of Georgia. He had been
;afforded a fair trial by a court of competent jurisdiction

-15 27 U. S. 309.

in that state. He had been found guilty and sentence
had been pronounced pursuant to the laws of that state.
By three different proceedings his case had been reviewed
or considered by the Supreme Court of Georgia, and every
ground urged in his present petition for habeas corpus
had been urged and adversely passed on by Georgia’s court
of last resort. It was their final conclusion that Frank was
“not shown to have been deprived of any right guaranteed
to him by the Fourteenth Amendment or any other pro-
vision of the Constitution or law of the United States…. ”
The dissenting opinion was written by Justice Oliver
Wendell Holmes and concurred in by Chief Justice
Hughes. Basing their view on the theory that the allega-
tions of the petition were untested, the dissenters felt that
the defendant should be permitted to make proof of his con-
tentions that the atmosphere of prejudice and hostility
which surrounded him had infected the jury and made a
fair trial impossible. If the allegations were found to be
true, it was clear, said the dissenting justices, that Frank
had been deprived of his liberty and was about to be de-
prived of his life without due process of law and in viola-
tion of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Holmes, as
was his wont, used vigorous language in expressing this
view, which was quite generally misinterpreted by the press
and the lay public as a statement by him of the undisputed
facts of the case. The contrary is clearly shown by the opin-
ion itself. Justice Holmes said:

The single question in our minds is whether a petition
alleging that the trial took place in the midst of a mob
savagely and manifestly intent on a single result, is shown
on its face…. This is not a matter for polite presumptions;
we must look facts in the face. Any judge who has sat with
juries knows that in spite of forms they are extremely likely
to be impregnated by the environing atmosphere. And
when we find the judgment of the expert on the spot, of
the judge whose business it was to preserve not only form

but substance, to have held that if one juryman yielded to
the reasonable doubt that he himself later expressed in
court as the result of most anxious deliberation, neither
prisoner nor counsel would be safe from the rage of the
crowd, we think the presumption overwhelming that the
jury responded to the passions of the mob. Of course, we
are speaking only of the case made by the petition, and
whether it ought to be heard.
Upon allegations of this gravity in our opinion it ought
to be heard, whatever the decision of the state court may
have been…. It may be that on a hearing a different com-
plexion would be given to the judge’s alleged request and
expression of fear. But supposing the alleged facts to be
true, we are of opinion that if they were before the Su-
preme Court [of Georgia] it sanctioned a situation upon
which the Courts of the United States should act, and if
for any reason they were not before the Supreme Court, it
is our duty to act upon them now and to declare lynch law
as little valid when practiced by a regularly drawn jury as
when administered by one elected by a mob intent on

Even before the decision of the Supreme Court of the
United States was handed down another desperate attempt
was made to secure a new trial through a motion to that
end in the Circuit Court of Fulton County. It was heard
on April 22 by Judge B. H. Hill, who had succeeded Judge
Roan, and denied. Frank was resentenced-execution to
take place on April 25.
The possibilities of judicial review being now exhausted,
an appeal was made to the governor and to the state’s
Prison Commission for a pardon or commutation of sen-
Execution of sentence was again postponed, pending in-
vestigation and report of the state’s Prison Commission.
On June 9 that body, by a vote of two to one, denied
16 The above is quoted at length because of the impression created at the
time by the publicity given to the great jurist’s dissent (which was out of
all proportion to that accorded the majority opinion) that Frank had from
the outset been the marked victim of mob terrorism.

Frank’s plea for clemency. The dissenter argued: Frank
and Conley had equal motive and opportunity to commit
the crime. There was possibly more of a motive for Con-
ley-robbery, in addition to rape. It was undisputed that
Conley had written the notes. The trial judge who heard
the evidence expressed a doubt as to Frank’s guilt. There
were what amounted to the opinions of two judges of the
Supreme Court of the United States that Frank had not had
a fair and impartial trial.
Governor Slaton was not satisfied and announced he
1would make a personal investigation. He visited the fac-
tory and went over the premises. He read and studied the
record of the testimony, the briefs and arguments of coun-
sel and the Courts’ decisions in the various appeals. He
announced he would hold public hearings at which any
person with anything to offer for or against Frank might
appear and be heard. A number of such hearings were
held. More than ioo persons appeared and made state-
ments, among them Solicitor General Dorsey and his assist-
ant prosecutors. The proceedings were stenographically
reported and published in full in the daily press. Judge
Roan from his deathbed had written to the governor, urg-
ing clemency for Frank.
On July 21 Governor Slaton commuted Frank’s sen-
tence to life imprisonment. His statement, accompanying
the official order, merits quotation. After an accurate and
dispassionate summary of the evidence, the governor said:

In any event, the performance of my duty under the
Constitution is a matter of my conscience. My responsi-
bility rests where the power is reposed. Judge Roan, with
that awful sense of responsibility which probably came
over him as he thought of that Judge before Whom he
would shortly appear, calls to me from another world to
request that I do what he should have done. I can endure
misconstruction, abuse and condemnation, but I cannot
stand the constant companionship of an accusing con-
cience which would remind me that I, as governor of

Georgia, failed to do what I thought to be right. There is
a territory beyond a reasonable doubt and absolute cer-
tainty for which the law provides in allowing life imprison-
ment instead of execution. This case has been marked
by doubt. The trial judge doubted. Two judges of the Su-
preme Court of Georgia doubted. Two judges of the
Supreme Court of the United States doubted. One of the
three prison commissioners doubted. In my judgment, in
granting a commutation in this case I am sustaining the
jury, the judge and the appeals tribunals and at the same
time I am discharging that duty which is placed upon me
by the constitution of the state. Acting, therefore, in ac-
cordance with what I believe to be my duty under the cir-
cumstances in this case, it is ordered that the sentence in
the case of Leo M. Frank is commuted from the death pen-
alty to imprisonment for life.

The governor’s action aroused a storm. There were
anti-Frank demonstrations throughout the state. A regi-
ment of the state militia was called out to guard the exec-
utive mansion. The Southern press generally denounced
the action or remained silent. A few of the more respon-
sible and influential papers, following the lead of the At-
lanta Journal, called the governor’s act one of high cour-
Despite the threatening signs no actual trouble eventu-
ated, and Frank was safely removed to the state peniten-
tiary at Milledgeville.
The case was now thought to be closed, but within a
,month and in circumstances never fully explained Frank
-was attacked while he slept by a fellow convict who cut
:a seven-inch gash in Frank’s throat with a butcher knife
.2nd severed the jugular vein. Had the alarm not been
instantly sounded and medical aid rushed to him, Frank
-would undoubtedly have bled to death. As it was he hov-
ered for days between life and death.
Four weeks went by. Frank was still convalescing from
his wound when a mob of probably not more than forty

unmasked men forced their way into the prison, held the
guards at bay with guns and dragged Frank from his bed.
Handcuffed and with a rope tied around his ankles Frank
was thrown into the rear of an automobile and, escorted by
three other loaded cars, driven to Marietta,17 the birth
and burial place of Mary Phagan. There in the early morn-
ing of August 16, 1915, he was hanged from a pine tree not
far from her grave.
Governor Harris, who had succeeded Governor Slaton,
denounced the lynching and promised a “thorough inves-
tigation.” Three days later he issued a statement that the
mobsters were unknown. They had cut all telephone and
telegraph lines in and out of Milledgeville, said the gover-
nor, and entered the prison with drawn revolvers in such
overwhelming numbers that resistance would have been
foolhardy. He concluded the prison authorities were “ab-
solutely blameless.”
The Northern press condemned the lynching as the
“work of lawless fanatics” and consistent with the lawless-
ness which had characterized the case from the beginning.
Marietta’s local newspaper declared it was not the act of
lawless fanatics but of “a body of law-abiding citizens who
had simply carried out a righteous sentence, the execution
of which had been postponed by the unjustified and il-
legal interference of a misguided retiring governor.” The
Atlanta Journal and other leading dailies in the South de-
nounced the lynching as “mob murder” which had “out-
raged and endangered a commonwealth” and “assassinated
the character of a law-abiding state.”
Was Frank guilty? After one has read the record and all
of the available literature on the case, the most one can say
is: He may have been guilty, and he may have been inno-
cent. One simply cannot, with evidence supporting reason,
declare unequivocally that he was guilty or that he was not

17 About i5o miles from Milledgeville.

guilty. There is evidence and reasonable probability to
support either conclusion.
It may be significant, as has been argued in support of
the jury’s verdict, that in the passage of nearly forty years
since Frank’s brutal execution not a single additional fact
pointing to his innocence has come to light. Nevertheless,
from the present perspective a conscientious reader of the
record puts it down with the uncertain and troubled feel-
ing that Frank’s guilt was not proved beyond a reasonable
doubt and that he may have been the victim of one of the
most flagrant miscarriages of justice recorded in American
criminal annals.