First Two Days of Frank Trial Only Skirmishes Before Battle

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

During the two days’ progress of the Frank trial public interest has centered around the case and all eyes seemed turned to it. To date, the interest has really been in watching the struggle between the skilled attorneys who are fighting for position and whose clashes over the preliminary witnesses are merely the skirmishes of the pickets before two mighty armies come together.

Thus far the interest, while to a certain extent centered on the maneuvering, has been mostly of the future tense. Every one is looking forward to what is to come. A fierce skirmish that almost engaged the two sides in real and earnest conflict came over the cross-examination of Newt Lee, and in it the state won. It was rather through the rare character of the negro testifying and his unbreakable spirit that the state won its first skirmish than through the efforts of its lawyers.

Continue Reading →

Mother and Daughter in Tears As Clothing of Mary Phagan Is Exhibited in Courtroom

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

Solicitor Dorsey stood before Detective Starnes at the witness box yesterday afternoon and held to view a lavender frock with a bit of pink ribbon at each shoulder. In the hand that was lowered at his side he held a wee slipper.

“Do you recognize this dress?” he put to the witness.

“I do.”

“To whom did it belong?”

“To Mary Phagan, the girl who was killed in the National Pencil factory.”

Continue Reading →

Officer Tells About Discovery Of Body of Girl in Basement

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

Sergeant L. S. Dobbs, one of the policemen who answered Lee’s call to the factory, was put on the stand, after Lee was dismissed.

He told of the call at about 3:20 a. m. on April 27, and of how he and Officers Anderson and Brown, with “Boots” Rogers, an ex-county policeman, and Britt Craig, of The Constitution, went to the factory and found the body.

The officer declared, among other things, that Lee was not frightened or trembling when they got there, that they had difficulty in telling at first whether the girl was white or black, and that Lee had interrupted his reading of the note when he reached the word “night” by saying, “Boss, that’s me.”

Sergeant Dobbs went into detail about the cord around the girl’s neck, and also the torn piece of underclothing tied loosely around the neck over the cord. He declared that the rope and piece of cloth exhibited were very similar to those he saw that morning, but would not swear they were the identical ones.

Continue Reading →

Sergeant Dobbs Resumes Stand At Tuesday Afternoon Session

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

Sergeant L. S. Dobbs took the stand again at the afternoon session.

“Did you help take the girl’s body from the basement?” Attorney Rosser questioned.

“I was there when the undertakers came,” answered the sergeant.

“Who cleaned the girl’s face?”

“Sergeant Brown, I believe.”

“How?”

“With a piece of paper.”

“How was the body removed?”

“In a corpse basket.”

Here the examination was taken up by the solicitor general.

“What is the distance from the ladder to the spot where the body was found?”

“About 150 feet.”

Continue Reading →

Clash Comes Over Evidence Of Detective John Starnes

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

When Sergeant Dobbs was called from the stand Detective J. M. Starnes, prosecutor of Frank and a detective attached to police headquarters was called in. He has been associated with the solicitor general throughout the Phagan investigation.

The defense and prosecution clashed in perhaps their most spectacular battle over an attempt of Attorney Rosser to force the detective into recalling the exact words of a portion of his testimony at the coroner’s inquest.

An argument was advanced by both Attorneys Dorsey and Hooper and each member of Frank’s counsel Attorneys Arnold and Rosser.

The apparent motive of the defense was to discredit certain portions of Starnes story relative to his telephonic conversation with the accused superintendent when he notified him of the tragedy at daybreak Sunday morning.

The result was a rule by Judge Roan to allow the defense to remind the witness of the exact statement he was wished to recall the exact date and circumstances. It was followed by an amendment, the question finally going unasked.

Continue Reading →

Lee, Dull and Ignorant, Calm Under Gruelling Cross Fire

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

Newt Lee, the negro night watchman of the pencil factory, who telephoned police headquarters of the finding of Mary Phagan’s body at the pencil factory, was again placed upon the stand when court convened Tuesday for the second day’s session.

Attorney Luther Z. Rosser renewed his cross-fire of questions by which he sought to confuse the negro and secure new admissions or change valuable points in his testimony, and thus expose a vulnerable point for a concentrated attack upon his entire statement.

Mr. Rosser took up practically where he had left off the afternoon before.

“Newt, when you raised your lantern you walked forward a few feet. How far did you have to go before finding out what the object that attracted you was?” he began.

Continue Reading →

Three Witnesses Describe Finding Mary Phagan’s Body

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 30th, 1913

NEWT LEE STICKS TO ORIGINAL STORY DESPITE ATTEMPTS TO CONFUSE NEGRO

Striking Feature of Day’s Proceedings Was the Evident Effort on Part of Luther Rosser to Connect Watchman With Crime, or Show He Knew More Than He Has Told.

DORSEY SAYS DEFENSE IS TRYING TO IMPEACH TESTIMONY OF STARNES

Mr. Rosser Declared, However, That All He Was Trying to Do Was to Test the Memory of Detective Who Was Among First to Investigate the Murder of Mary Phagan in Factory.

During the second day’s proceedings of the Leo M. Frank trial the sensation for which the morbidly curious have been craning their necks failed to materialize.

Nothing that has not been printed in the papers was brought out.

The striking feature of the day’s proceedings was the evident effort on the part of Luther Rosser to connect Newt Lee with the commission of the crime, or to show that he knew more about the death of Mary Phagan than he has thus far told. As on the previous day, Lee stuck to his original story, and through hours of what would have been acute torture to a man of refined sensibilities he was stolid in reiterating the details of how he had found the body, and of Leo M. Frank’s words and actions on Memorial day, when the murder of Mary Phagan was committed.

Continue Reading →

Will Leo Frank’s Lawyers Put Any Evidence Before the Jury?

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

Will Frank’s lawyers put any evidence before the court?

That is a question that was much discussed on the opening day by a score or more of lawyers who secured seats in the courtroom in order to hear the trial and to watch the way in which the skilled attorneys on both sides handled the case.

The fact that so many witnesses have been summoned by the defense does not mean to the legal mind that Attorneys Rosser and Arnold will put up any evidence any more than the summoning of scores of the accused man’s personal friends means that Frank’s lawyers will put his character in evidence.

Continue Reading →

Unusual Interest Centers In Mrs. Frank’s Appearance

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

Up to the hour of the trial, Mrs. Leo M. Frank, wife of the young man now on trial for his life, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan, had kept in the background of the case. Daily she visited her husband at the jail, and brought him delicacies. She came quietly, and when she departed she created no stir of excitement among the hangers-on around the jail. She was accorded the most chivalrous treatment, and her desire to avoid notoriety was respected. Only once did an expression from her appear in the public prints, and then only because she felt her husband had not been fairly dealt with, and her wifey feelings compelled her to express her opinion of certain phases of the case.

Object of Great Interest.

For this reason there was a great deal of curiosity as to whether she would be present at the trial, and when she did make her appearance she was the object of an interest second only to that felt in her husband, by whose side she sat during the entire day. This interest, however, was not obtrusive or offensive. It was at all times respectful—a very natural interest which could not be repressed.

Continue Reading →

Reporter Witnesses are Allowed in Court

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

Men Who May Be Called to Stand Report Trial by Attorney’s Agreement.

Just as the state was about to open formally its case against Leo M. Frank, Attorney Reuben R. Arnold interrupted by declaring to the court that he expected to have to call on a number of newspaper men to testify as the case went on.

“They know a great deal about this case, and we have complete files of the papers here and will be able to tell to a certain extent from them whom we will want,” he said.

“I may want to use some of them, too,” said Solicitor Hugh Dorsey.

“Well, your honor, I’m willing to waive the right to put these gentlemen under the rule, if the state is willing to do so,” continued Mr. Arnold.

Continue Reading →

96 Men are Called Before Getting Jury

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

Attorneys for Both Sides Had Good Line on All Men Examined.

According to an unofficial account kept as the matter of striking the Frank jury was carried out, ninety-six men were called into the box and examined before the twelve men to try the case were finally selected. These men were divided into eight panels of twelve each, and came in a panel at a time.

Every bit of information that could be got together in advance about the men whose names were on the venire list of 144 men drawn last week, had been secured by lawyers on both sides, who also had outside aid in selecting the men.

A crowd of men who will take no other part in the legal fight surrounded the lawyers’ tables and gave suggestions as the various names were called. Among them were Oscar Simmons, of counsel for the Georgia Railway and Power company, which has practically the best and most complete list of the 6,000 men whose names are in the Fulton county jury list. Mr. Simmons aided the defense.

Continue Reading →

Numerous Witnesses Called in Frank Case

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

List Indicates That Prisoner Is Prepared to Put Character in Evidence.

Numbers of witnesses were summoned to court by both sides and when the names were called so that all could be sworn it developed that scores of Leo Frank’s friends had been called upon. From the fact that there is not a possibility of one in this number knowing anything of the crime, it appears that the defense has made preparation, at least, to put Frank’s character in evidence and has secured these of his friends to testify for him.

Of the number of Frank’s close friends and brothers in his fraternal order it is expected that several will be used to support the claim which it is expected will be made that a card party was going on at his house on the night of April 26. By this means an alibi for a number of hours might be proved.

Continue Reading →

Mincey, on Arrival Reaffirms Affidavit

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

W. H. Mincey, who made the famous affidavit in which he declared that Jim Conley had told him on April 26 that he had killed a girl, arrived late last night for the Frank trial.

In a statement made to The Constitution, Mr. Mincey reaffirmed his affidavit in its entirety and declared that he would tell this story on the witness stand. He was accompanied by Colonel Ben E. Neal, of Ringgold, Ga., a lawyer who has known him for years and who states that he will testify as to Mincey’s [rest of article cut off].

Burglars Try to Enter Home of Frank Juror

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

But F. V. L. Smith’s Wife Calls Police and Intruders Flee.

Two big, burly, black negroes who evidently had taken a decided interest in the Frand [sic] murder trial, and knew that F. V. L. Smith, of 481 Cherokee avenue, had been chosen for the jury yesterday and would not be home last night, attempted to enter his home.

No one was there but Mrs. Smith and her little 4-weeks’ old child. Seeing the negroes on the porch, she made a step toward them, and they fled. Within a few minutes they returned, and instead of fainting as most women would have done, she coolly walked to the phone and called the police station.

Call Officer Shumate answered the ring, and with his partner, Officer Cochran, the two made the trip to record-breaking time, getting out there in four minutes by the clock, but the burglars were gone.

Trial of Leo M. Frank on Charge of Murder Begins; Mrs. Coleman, George Epps and Newt Lee on Stand

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 29th, 1913

WATCHMAN TELLS OF FINDING BODY OF MARY PHAGAN

Trial Adjourns for the Day While Lee Is on the Stand, and His Cross-Questioning Will Be Resumed Today.

MOTHER AND THE WIFE OF PRISONER CHEER HIM BY PRESENCE AT TRIAL

Jury Is Quickly Secured and Mrs. Coleman, Mother of the Murdered Girl, Is First Witness to Take Stand.

With a swiftness which was gratifying to counsel for the defense, the solicitor general and a large crowd of interested spectators, the trial of Leo M. Frank, charged with the murder of Mary Phagan on April 26, in the building of the National Pencil factory, was gotten under way Monday.

When the hour of adjournment for the day had arrived, the jury had been selected and three witnesses had been examined. Newt Lee, the nightwatchman who discovered the dead body of Mary Phagan in the basement of the National Pencil factory, and who gave the first news of the crime to the police, was still on the stand, undergoing rigid cross-examination by Luther Z. Rosser, attorney for Frank.

Continue Reading →

Jurors in Leo M. Frank Case Must Answer Four Questions

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 28th, 1913

Chief interest in the case of Leo M. Frank, which is scheduled to begin today, centers in the selection of a jury, the first 144 veniremen, having been drawn last Thursday and published in The Constitution on Sunday.

It seems to be the general opinion that this panel will be exhausted and others summoned before a jury is secured. Attorneys for both sides are of the opinion that it will take about a day to select a jury, which would let the hearing of evidence begin on Tuesday, or on Wednesday, if it should happen that the task becomes so difficult as to consume two days.

Many Are Disqualified.

Owing to the universal interest in the developments growing out of the murder of little Mary Phagan in the National Pencil factory, many men have disqualified themselves from serving on the jury through an expression of their opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner at the bar today.

The veniremen who will appear in court this morning will be asked to answer four questions, prescribed by the code of Georgia as follows:

Continue Reading →

Leo Frank’s Trial on Murder Charge Booked for Today

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 28th, 1913

Judge L. S. Roan Announces That He Will Call Case at Nine O’Clock This Morning.

LAWYERS BELIEVE JURY WILL BE NAMED IN DAY

Legal Representatives Take Good Rest on Sunday in Preparation for Struggle That Begins Today.

After weeks of preparation by some of the most skilled legal minds in the state and after every point in the affair that has been made public has been discussed and threshed out by thousands of citizens, the case of the state v. Leo M. Frank, charged with the murder of little Mary Phagan, will be called at 9 o’clock today.

Event after event has followed in rapid succession since the morning of April 27, when Atlanta arose to wend its way to church and read of the finding by police of the little girl’s dead body in the basement of the National Pencil company, on South Forsyth street. Newt Lee, the negro night watchman, who called the police, was arrested, and is still held. J. M. Gantt and Arthur Mullinax, two white employees, were then arrested, and afterwards freed. Then the young factory superintendent was taken into custody.

Then Conley’s Affidavit.

Then came the arrest of James Conley, negro sweeper, who stayed in jail apparently unheeded until he burst forth with his sensational affidavits against the superintendent.

Continue Reading →

Additional Newspaper Transcriptions

Several Atlanta Constitution newspaper articles were unavailable a few weeks ago for transcription and were skipped over in the postings. Original copies of the newspapers were used to transcribe these missing Leo Frank case articles. As the postings on this website are, for the most part, in chronological order from the date of the murder, the Constitution articles were backdated and published where they would have been otherwise, in older posts. The dates of these articles run from July 23rd to July 26th of the Atlanta Constitution.

All in Readiness for Frank’s Trial Monday Morning

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 27th, 1913

Greatest Legal Battle in the History of Dixie Is the Prediction of Atlanta Attorneys

ATTORNEYS FOR STATE HOLD FINAL CONFERENCE

Representatives of Leo Frank Still Non-Committal About Report That Postponement May Be Asked

Practically every detail for the trial of Leo M. Frank has now been completed and with the state declaring its readiness and determination to go to trial and the defense maintaining its same silence in regard to the much mooted matter of postponement every thing awaits the calling of the case at 9 o’clock Monday morning in the criminal branch of superior court before Judge L. S. Roan.

In far more than one was the trial of the young factory superintendent for the murder on April 26 of Mary Phagan an employee, is expected to exceed any criminal trial in the south.

Extensive preparations have been made by both the state and the defense since Frank was bound over by the coroner’s jury on May 8 and since then the lines of the two armies which will fight the legal battle to determine his fate have been gradually thrown out and maneuvering has been going on for advantageous points.

Greatest Legal Battle.

When the clash actually comes in the court room Atlanta attorneys freely predict that the greatest legal battle of southern history will be seen.

Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey held a final conference Saturday afternoon with those who have been aiding him. Assistant Solicitor E. A. Stephens and Attorney Frank A. Hooper who will aid in the legal fight, were present, and also Detectives Pat Campbell and John N. Starnes who have been practically attached to the solicitors office during the preparation.

Continue Reading →

Frank’s Lawyers Ready for Trial

Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.

Atlanta Constitution
July 26th, 1913

They Have Started Summoning Witnesses and Are Quoted as Having Agreed to Go to Trial.

That Attorneys Reuben R. Arnold and Luther Z. Rosser, representing Leo M. Frank, charged with the Mary Phagan murder, have decided to go to trial Monday when the case is called was information made public Friday from an apparently reliable source. Coupled with this, and apparently making the trial doubly sure, is the news that the defense has started summoning its witnesses and making final preparations for the actual trial.

Solicitor Hugh M. Dorsey reiterated Friday his statement in regard to the stand the state has taken and declared that he would oppose every move for continuance, unless there should prove an extraordinary reason for putting it off.

Judge L. S. Roan who will conduct the trial and who was slightly ill Thursday, had apparently recovered Friday and expects to call the case Monday morning should nothing unusual happen.

Despite the fact that the attorneys for the defense still maintain a blank silence in regard to their position and decline to say whether or not they will ask for a postponement, the impression has got out that they have agreed to having the trial come off.

Continue Reading →