Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 14th, 1913
Call New Witnesses to Complete Alibi
WIFE AND MOTHER OF ACCUSED ARE WARNED AGAINST OUTBREAKS
Nearly a score more of alibi witnesses were to be called by the defense in the Frank trial when court opened Thursday morning. Frank’s attorneys thought that they would not be able to coincide before the early part of next week.
A number of character witnesses also will be called before the defense ends its case in behalf of the factory superintendent.
Solicitor Dorsey, before the jury was brought in, said he wanted to make a request that the mother and wife of Leo M. Frank be excluded from the court as the witnesses have been because of the outbreak of the elder Mrs. Frank Wednesday afternoon.
“I appreciate the feeling of the wife and mother,” he said, “it is a terrible strain on them. I am sorry for them. But I must have protection and I think they should be excluded when we are subjected to outbreaks like that of yesterday.”
Attorney Reuben in reply said:
“Without criticizing Mrs. Frank, I want to state that the Solicitor’s examination of the witness yesterday was far worse than her outbreak. He was undertaking to get in evidence in an illegal way. He could not get it in a legal way. He was appealing to the crowd and to the feelings of the jury. Does your honor think that good practice—honorable practice—especially when a man is on trial for his life?”
Judge Roan ruled, after more arguing:
“You are entirely right, Mr. Dorsey, in saying that you are entitled to protection. Other women were put out because the evidence was of such a nature as to be indecent to be heard by them. It is a matter in the discretion of the court to state whether these ladies should be allowed to remain. I will say that if there are any more such outbreaks as yesterday I shall be forced to exclude them.”
Mr. Frank, the mother and the prisoner’s wife were both in court while the argument was in progress.
The calling of four character witnesses Wednesday opened the floodgates for the State to get before the jury all of its accusations against Frank, and was the direct cause of a frantic outburst on the part of Mrs. Rae Frank, mother of the defendant, who rose from her chair and dramatically denounced Solicitor General Dorsey.
It was the first scene created by any of the members of the prisoner’s family. Frank’s wife and mother were perceptibly affected when the Solicitor previously was hurling his charges of gross misconduct against the defendant, but both had restrained themselves from any marked demonstration.
Feeling Reaches Bursting Point.
The elder woman persistently had maintained an almost expressionless face while the most abhorrent charges were being made. Save that she looked away from the crowd as if it were a terrible ordeal to listen to the testimony. It would have been impossible to tell that it was one of her loved ones against whom the charges were being made.
Her feelings, however, had reached the bursting point Wednesday. She could stand the attack against her son’s character no longer. From the impassive and quietly suffering woman she was goaded to the fury of a tigress.
From the lips of the Solicitor General flowed a stream of implied accusations. He asked about alleged incidents in Frank’s office at the factory; about incidents in the girl’s dressing room which the Solicitor intimated that Frank invaded without apology or excuse.
The mother of Frank lifted her eyes to the Solicitor. There was in them no longer the look of resignation with which the other charges had been met. In its place blazed hate and outraged mother love. She was willing no longer to await the end of the trial for her son’s vindication.
The Solicitor continued. He gave the names of girls of tender years. He narrated circumstances that brought a crimson flood to the fact of the younger Mrs. Frank.
“Haven’t you heard of these stories?” he asked insinuatingly of the witness, Ashley Jones.
“No, nor you either!” cried the mother.
She was on her feet. The court room was astounded at the suddenness and dramatic intensity of the outburst. Persons rose here and there among the spectators, oblivious of the calls for order of the court attaches.
Mrs. Frank stood in hysterical indignation before the Solicitor. She said things to him that were lost in the confusion. She would have continued her tirade had she not been restrained by court deputies and members of her own family who rushed to her side to quiet and comfort her.
“My God, my God,” she moaned as she was led sobbing from the courtroom. She was taken home in a hysterical condition. She returned toward the close of the afternoon session, but did not reenter the courtroom.
If the denunciation affected the Solicitor, the did not show it unless it was by a line of questioning even more severe than he had pursued before.
Testimony Aids Frank.
Jones, an insurance man, in whose company Frank holds a policy denied that he had heard any of the reports of alleged immorality. He said that the young man’s record, in respect to health habits and morals, had been very thoroughly investigated before the policy was issued. He testified that Frank showed an unusually clean record.
The bars were let down for the introduction of testimony against Frank’s character when the defense put on the stand Alfred L. Lane, of Brooklyn, a classmate of Frank in Pratt Institute. Lane said that he had known Frank for figteen [sic] years and that he knew he possessed a good character.
Lane was followed by two other of Frank’s classmates.
They were Richard A. Wright, a consulting engineer of Brooklyn, and Philip Nash, a clerical engineer, of Ridgewood, N. J. Both testified as to his good character. Several witnesses intervened and then Ashley Jones was called.
Important testimony was given by Dr. William Owens, who was one of four men who sought to reproduce the disposal of Mary Phagan’s body as Jim Conley described it. William A. Fleming took the part of Frank and a Mr. Brent the part of Conley. Conley said that he and Frank carried the body downstairs and returned to Frank’s office in about five minutes.
Dr. Owens said that it took them about eighteen and a half minutes to carry out the drama in the pencil factory, exclusive of writing the notes and also exclusive of the time that Conley said he spent in the wardrobe in Frank’s office.
If the defense is able to make the jurors believe that it would have taken Frank and Conley eighteen and a half minutes to accomplish this they will have established what is considered a very strong alibi for the superintendent. To this must be added the eight minutes that Conley declares he was in Frank’s wardrobe and about twelve minutes for the writing of the four notes—this is half of the time that it probably would have taken the negro to write them according to the testimony of Harry Scott, Pinkerton detective. This makes a total of thirty-nine and one-half minutes. Conley said they started with the body at 12:56. The thirty-eight and one-half minutes would have brought the time to 1:34 1-2.
But, according to one of the State’s own witnesses, Frank had left the factory and had arrived home at 1:30—or, in other words, had arrived home before the disposal of the body could have been accomplished.
Quinn Severely Grilled.
Lemmie Quinn, metal department foreman, received a severe grilling from Solicitor Dorsey in the afternoon, but stuck to his story, that he visited the office of Frank at about 12:20 the afternoon of the murder. This is in contradiction of Conley’s story, who testified that he saw Quinn enter the factory before Mary Phagan and Monteen Stover came. The Solicitor displayed affidavits of Quinn in which the foreman said he had been at the factory sometime between 12 and 12:30 o’clock. Quinn said that at the time he made the affidavit he had not estimated the time so closely as he had been able to do since.
Other witnesses of the day were Dr. William S. Kendrick, head of the chair of medicine of the new Atlanta Medical School; Frank Payne, a former office boy for Frank, and Oscar Pappenheimer, a stockholder in the National Pencil Factory.
* * *