Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
The Atlanta Georgian
Saturday, June 14, 1913
With certain of the strong defenses of Leo M. Frank exposed by the preliminary battle over the custody of the negro Conley, the prosecution in the Phagan murder mystery went to work on the case to-day with its first definite idea of the sort of a stronghold it must assault.
It was assured that the accused man’s lawyers would not rest with fighting suspicion away from Frank, but would seek to fasten the guilt so firmly upon Conley that Frank not only would be acquitted, but that he would be cleared of every stain which has been cast upon his name and reputation by the terrible charges lodged against him.
Report was rife Saturday morning that the attorneys for Frank had not yet acknowledged defeat in their efforts to have Conley confined at the Tower instead of at the police station, where they charge he is improperly protected and “petted” by the detectives. The next move was rumored to be the swearing out of a warrant charging the negro with the murder, to compel Conley’s removal to the Tower.
Attacked by Rosser.
Luther Z. Rosser, chief of counsel for Frank, has branded at most unusual and irregular the procedure which has allowed the negro, who has confessed to being accessory after the fact, to be left without an indictment[…]
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STATE PLANS TO BREAK FRANK DEFENSE
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[…]against him on the charge to which he has virtually pleaded guilty.
Rosser urged an impartial investigation into the possibility that he is even more seriously connected with the crime which resulted in the grewsome death of Mary Phagan.
Chief of Detectives Lanford said Saturday when he was apprised of the contemplated move of those who wish to see the negro’s stories investigated by an impartial body that he assuredly would honor any warrant which on its face appeared bona fide, but that he would fight any effort to take Conley to the jail, which he suspected had back of it the animus of persons unfriendly to the negro and friendly to Frank. Lanford asserted that all of his actions in the Phagan mystery had been inspired by the desire to get the guilty man, and that it was his conviction that the negro was only a tool after the actual crime.
Guarding Against Surprise.
After the developments of Friday, it became evident that the prosecution, while it is busying itself in an effort to place the crime on Frank, must guard against the surprise of finding all of a sudden that the defense has stolen a march and has in the meantime shifted every tenable suspicion directly upon the negro Conley.
Most of the evidence must be circumstantial. Even the negro’s succession of contradictory affidavits, if any one of them is to be accepted, must be regarded as circumstantial, for in none of them does he say that he saw the killing of the girl. She was dead, he avers, when he first saw the body. So the death might have been quite accidental, even if every word of the negro’s latest affidavit is to be believed.
From the fact that the evidence is so purely circumstantial and that it is a matter of grave doubt whether any of the negro’s statements can be accepted as having any element of truth, the defense will maintain, it became evident from its attitude Friday, that the evidence points far more certainly and positively toward Conley as the murderer than toward Frank.
Absolutely nothing of a suspicious nature has been brought against Frank, the defense will assert, except that he had the opportunity. On the other hand, a score of suspicious circumstances will be brought against the negro.
The work of the prosecution from this time on will be the adding of confirmatory evidence to the negro’s stories. The detectives have professed to have a great amount of evidence bearing out Conley’s statements of what happened in the factory on the day of the murder. They have said that they are keeping much of this under cover for the purposes of prosecution until the trial of Frank begins.
When taxed with the question as to how they could believe the negro’s latest statement and accept it as the unqualified truth, when the negro admittedly had told a string of lies and falsehoods previously, they have said that they will not have to depend on the negro’s story alone, but will have substantiating evidence to bolster up every statement that he has made.
Besides the collecting of confirmatory evidence, the prosecution is busy in an effort to break down Frank’s iron-bound alibis. So strong have these alibis been established it has appeared that they are unassailable, but the Solicitor General is overlooking no chances and has had his agents investigating Frank’s every movement on the day of the crime.
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