Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913
Solves Discrepancies of Time
Mistaken Identity To Be Plea
Leo M. Frank Goes to Trial for the Slaying of Mary Phagan Monday, With Both Prosecution and the Defense Confident.
All Preparations Are Made for Big Crowds—Judge Roan to Be on Bench, Despite Recent Illness—Bitter Battle Expected.
Leo M. Frank will go on trial for his life to-morrow forenoon. With the beginning of the great legal battle, hardly more than 24 hours distant, it has been learned that the prosecution has overcome to its own satisfaction the greatest obstacle with which it has been confronted—the reconciling of the negro Conley with that contained in the statements of all the persons who visited the factory and were seen by Conley the day that Mary Phagan was murdered.
The most powerful argument against the truthfulness of the remarkable affidavit in which Conley told of helping Frank dispose of the body of the slain girl was contained in the fact that Conley’s original story in its designation of the time of various occurrences at the factory was in direct conflict with the statements of a number of the factory employees.
Miss Mattie Smith, one of the young women working for the National Pencil Company, told when she was first questioned of leaving the factory at about 9:30. Foreman M. B. Darley walked down the steps with her and said at the Coroner’s inquest that the hour was about 9:30.
At this stage of the investigation the time element in the forenoon had not assumed the vital importance which it now has, and Miss Smith and Darley, so far as is known, had no reason for misrepresenting the time that they departed from the building.
Difference in Time Baffling.
Yet when Conley came to make his affidavits he repeated the conversation of Darley and Miss Smith which he had overheard while hidden behind the boxes on the first floor, and described Miss Smith’s attire beyond mistake, although he stoutly maintained that he did not get to the factory until he arrived there with Frank at about 11 o’clock, when Frank returned from his visit to Montag Brothers’ plant at Nelson and Forsyth streets.
How could he have overheard a conversation that took place at 9:30 o’clock when he did not arrive at the factory until 11 o’clock was a mystery that baffled the detectives and the prosecution until Solicitor Dorsey had Miss Smith summoned to this office, and she told him that she had seen a negro, presumably Conley, in the factory at three minutes before 9 o’clock when she went there for her money Saturday morning.
From reliable sources the information comes that the negro, in one of the protected quizzings that was given him by the Solicitor, admitted that he was in the factory before the time he had named in his first stories, and that he listened to the Smith-Darley conversation at about 9:30, instead of an hour and a half later.
Discrepancy in Story.
Another discrepancy occurred in his story of the visit of Miss Corinthia Hall and Miss Emma Clark to Frank’s office. He declared that Frank said: “My God, here come Corinthia Hall and Emma Clark,” while Frank was preparing to dictate the notes about 1 o’clock. The two young women, however, entered the factory more than an hour before and left at about 11:45 to go on a nearby lunchroom.
It is understood that the prosecution will contend that Frank was mistaken in the identity of the two young women when he heard them approaching, and that as a matter of fact, two other women entered the office. It is said that Solicitor Dorsey has the names of the two who, he says, were in Frank’s office at about 1 o’clock, and that he will call them as witnesses.
How the most recent changes in the negro’s story will affect the credibility when he goes before a jury is problematical. The defense is certain to train its most destructive guns upon Conley’s veracity. The alterations, by which the State hopes to strengthen the case, may instead weaken it for the attack which will be made by the [several words illegible] […]
COURT IN READINESS FOR FRANK TRIAL OPENING
Factory Superintendent To Be Placed on Trial for Girl’s Slaying Monday Morning—Both Sides Confident of Winning a Victory.
[…] defending Frank. They already ridicule the idea of accepting an iota of Conley’s testimony, in view of the many changes he has made in it since he first talked to the detectives. They brand him as a perjurer and his statements rot.
State Ready for Fight.
Solicitor Dorsey and his associate in the prosecution, Frank A. Hooper, have been preparing themselves for the fight that may be precipitated at any moment after the opening of the trial over the subpenas duces tecum which have been issued by Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, lawyers for Frank.
The subpenas, which were issued last month when it was thought that the trial might begin June 30, commanded Solicitor Dorsey, Chief Lanford, Chief Beavers, Harry Scott and other detectives who had worked on the Phagan mystery to bring to court with them the affidavits of Jim Conley, Newt Lee, Monteen Stover, W. M. Matthews and several other witnesses.
The attorneys for the prosecutor branded the subpenas as a trick to discredit the State’s witnesses if their testimony should vary in the slightest from that contained in the affidavits. They announced that they would fight the move before the bar of the court. If unsuccessful, it was regarded as not unlikely that they would retaliate with subpenas duces tecum of their own. It is possible that the skirmish over the subpenas may precede the drawing of the jury, which also will involve a large amount of legal jockeying.
P. H. Brewster, one of the oldest members of the Atlanta bar, and known for his wealth of legal information, has been called into assist the prosecution in preparing certain phases of its case.
Colonel Brewster to Figure.
Colonel Brewster has compiled briefs bearing on the admissibility of every particle of evidence which the prosecution has in its possession, and he is expected to be an interesting figure in the courtroom during the progress of the trial.
Attorneys for the defense announced yesterday that they knew of nothing that would influence them to ask for a continuance when the case is called to-morrow. Subpenas have been issued for about 150 witnesses by Frank’s lawyers. One of the subpenas was served upon Harry Scott, who conducted the investigation into the murder mystery for the Pinkerton Agency. Scott also is under summons by the prosecution.
Frank and his attorneys will go into the trial confident of an acquittal. Evidence has been in their possession for weeks which points suspicion directly at the negro Conley.
All of the veniremen, with the exception of two or three who could not be located yesterday, have been notified to appear. The courtroom has been prepared for the crowd that will pack it while the trial is in progress.
Judge Roan has said that he knows of no reason why there should be a further postponement.
Judge Roan to Preside.
The formal trial of Leo M. Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan will begin at 9 o’clock Monday morning, when Judge L. S. Roan calls the criminal division of the Superior Court to order in the courtroom on the first floor of the old City Hall, South Pryor and Hunter streets.
Under direction of Deputy Sheriff Plennie Minor, all preparations for receiving the vast crowds that are expected to be drawn by the celebrated case have been made. Benches, outside the space reserved for the attorneys and newspaper men, have been replaced with chairs there, and the seating capacity of the room has been raised to 250. No spectator will be admitted after the seats are filled.
Saturday morning electricians were installing half a dozen electric fans, which will help to make the room comfortable during the battle to come. There also have been installed half a dozen ozonators to help purify the air.
Judge Roan was in his chambers all of Saturday. He declared that despite his recent attack of indigestion he will be on the bench when the hour of the trial arrives.