Dramatic Moment of Trial Comes as Negro Takes Stand

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

L. O. Grice, a stenographer in the offices of the Atlanta and West Point Railroad, was the first witness called. He said that he saw Frank on Sunday morning after the murder and Frank attracted his attention by his undue nervousness.

Grice said he was on the way to the Terminal Station when he bought an “extra” stating that a murder had been committed at the National Pencil Factory. He said he stopped by the pencil factory and saw eight men on the inside of the building.

“Did any of these men attract your particular attention?” asked Solicitor Dorsey.—A. Two or three of them did.

Q. Who were they?—A. When I went in the building Detective Black, whom I knew, was asking a great many questions.

Q. Did anybody attract your attention by their nervousness?—A. Not right then, but later we went down through the basement and out the back door. Then I was attracted by the nervous actions of a small dark man. I did not know him.

Q. Is this the man? (Pointing to Frank.)—A. Yes.

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Frank Calm and Jurors Tense While Jim Conley Tells His Gastcy [sic] Tale

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

During the long wait for Conley to appear, Frank, his loyal wife and his no less loyal mother gave no sign of fear. Accuser and accused were about to face each other, a dramatic situation which the authorities had sought to bring about since the negro made his third affidavit charging Frank with the terrible crime.

If Frank at last were on the edge of a breakdown his calm, untroubled features were most deceiving at this time. He seemed no more concerned than when John Black, floundering and helpless on the stand, was making as good a witness for the defense as he was expected to make for the State.

When Solicitor Dorsey announced that Conley would be the next witness the courtroom was electrified with a shock of interest in which the only three persons who seemed not affected were this trio—Frank, his wife and his mother.

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Jurors Strain Forward to Catch Conley Story; Frank’s Interest Mild

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

Dramatic in its very glibness and unconcern, Conley’s story, if it failed to shake or disturb Leo Frank, at least had a wonderful impression upon each member of the jury.

Conley told of seeing Mary Phagan enter the factory. This was the first time he had admitted to this, so far as the public had known.

Frank showed only a mild interest, but the jurors strained forward in their seats.

Conley told of hearing the footsteps from his vantage point on the first floor of two persons coming out of Frank’s office.

Frank still exhibited no sign of concern.

Conley then related hearing the footsteps going back to the metal room and of being startled by the shrieks of a young girl.

Mrs. Frank bowed her head, but gave no other sign. Frank still was the personification of coolness and composure.

* * *

The Atlanta Georgian, August 4th 1913, “Jurors Strain Forward to Catch Conley Story; Frank’s Interest Mild,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)

Jim Conley’s Story as Matter of Fact as if it Were of His Day’s Work

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

By O. B. Keeler.

Jim Conley, hewer of wood and drawer of water.

On the witness stand at the Frank trial this morning, Jim unfolded a tale whose lightest word—you know the rest. It was a story that flexed attention to the breaking point: a story that whitened knuckles and pressed finger nails into palms; a story that absorbed the usual courtroom stir and rustle, and froze the hearers into lines upon lines of straining faces.

And Jim Conley told that story as he might have told the story of a day’s work at well-digging, or driving a dray, or sweeping up the second floor at the National Pencil Factory.

Jim was matter-of-fact.

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Conley’s Story In Detail; Women Barred By Judge

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

There was a murmur of excitement following the calling of Jim Conley; there was a wait of several minutes, officers having just left the police station with the negro a minute or two before he was called.

Judge Roan impatiently ordered the Sheriff to bring in the witness. A number of spectators who were crowded up too close to the jury box were moved back by the court deputies.

“The Sheriff hasn’t got Jim Conley,” said Attorney Rosser, after a statement from Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner.

“Mr. Starnes will bring him in,” returned Solicitor Dorsey.

“See if Mrs. White has arrived,” then requested Dorsey. “She has a very young baby, and when I had her subpenaed this morning she said that she would have to send to the factory and get her husband before she could come.”

Courtroom Quiet as Conley Enters.

“You may call her later,” said Mr. Rosser, “there wont’ be any objection.”
Jim Conley was brought into the courtroom just at this time. He took the witness chair and was sworn in while in the chair. Solicitor Dorsey examined him and everyone leaned forward, while extreme quiet prevailed.

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Rosser’s Grilling of Negro Leads to Hot Clashes by Lawyers

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 4th, 1913

A bitter, determined cross-examination of Jim Conley by Luther Rosser was marked by a prolonged battle between counsel for the defense and State over the method of questioning the negro.

The defense won a complete victory, Judge Roan ruling that the accuser of Leo Frank could be cross-examined on any subject the prisoner’s lawyers saw fit.

In the course of this legal tilt Luther Rosser said:

“I am going after him (referring to Conley) and I am going to jump on him with both feet.”

Turning to counsel for the State he added significantly: “And I won’t enlighten him, either. Your period of enlightenment is over.”

Rosser, before the afternoon session concluded, got the negro to say that he had been lying when he said that he got up at 9 o’clock the day of the crime. He said he got up at 6 o’clock.

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“Break” in the Frank Trial May Come With the Hearing Of Jim Conley’s Testimony

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 3rd, 1913

By Britt Craig.

Jim Conley isn’t a cornfield negro—he’s more of the present day type of city darkey—and that’s the only difference between him and Newt Lee. Outside of that there is but little variance.

However, Jim’s ancestors hewd cotton and plowed bottom lands long before Jim had an idea of existing. He’s got the good old country strain in him and he’s as black as tar.

Some folks say he’ll make a witness as good as Newt, and others say he won’t. That all remains to be seen. One thing is sure: There’ll be plenty of pyrotechnics when he begins to show whatever kind of witness he is.

Jim is the hinge of the Frank case. His testimony is expected to swing it one way or the other. If his story sticks and he is as firm as he has been thus far, things will look quite melancholy for the white man. If he falls down as the defense expects then Lord help his neck.

It’s a question of Jim Conley or Leo Frank with Jim Conley’s testimony as the scales.

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Defense Will Introduce Witnesses

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

Atlanta Journal
August 3rd, 1913

FRANK TRIAL WILL RUN INTO THIRD WEEK; DEFENSE WILL BEGIN TESTIMONY WEDNESDAY

Indications Saturday, When Court Adjourned Until Monday Morning at 9 o’Clock, Were That State Would Require at Least Two More Days Before Concluding Presentation of Its Case Against the Factory Superintendent

DEFENSE’S DECISION TO INTRODUCE EVIDENCE MEANS THAT THE TRIAL IS NOT YET HALF OVER

Dr. H. F. Harris Will Take the Stand Again Monday Afternoon and Will Probably Be Under Cross-Examination for Several Hours—Conley Will Be State’s Last Witness, and a Big Battle Will Rage Around His Testimony

IT’S TERRIBLE FOR AN INNOCENT MAN TO BE CHARGED WITH CRIME” Leo M. Frank.

Leo M. Frank is apparently standing the strain of the tedious trial remarkably well, and the expression of his face seldom changes during the introduction of evidence. According to his jailers he still sleeps soundly every night, and he has never lost his appetite.

Few people have ever discussed the actual evidence in the case with him, and no expression of an opinion from him about the case, which the state has put up against him, has reached the public.

Frank is quoted as having made only this comment before Saturday’s session started: “It is terrible for an innocent man to be charged with a most damnable crime. Even if he is cleared he can never get over the fact that he was charged and tried for the crime.”

Solicitor General Hugh M. Dorsey admits that he was practically completed his “circumstantial” case against Leo M. Frank, although the state has several witnesses who will be put on the stand this week before the state’s case is concluded.

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Conley to Bring Frank Case Crisis

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

Atlanta Georgian
August 3rd, 1913

Negro’s Testimony Now Supremely Important

Both Sides Stake Their All on His Evidence

STATE FORGES CHAIN TO TAX ALL THE INGENUITY OF DEFENSES LEGAL ARRAY

First Week of Battle Has Fixed the Time Almost Exactly According to Theory of the Solicitor—Doctors’ Testimony His Important Bearing.

BY AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

There are two tenable theories of the manner in which little Mary Phagan met her tragic death in the National Pencil Factory on Saturday, April 26.

Either she was murdered by Leo Frank, as charged in the indictment, or she was murdered by James Conley, the negro sweeper, employed in the factory.

If there is another theory, it has not been advanced.

The theory that Frank killed the girl is the one set up by the State; the theory that Conley killed her is the one to be set up by the defense.

Which, if either, is the true theory?

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Mrs. Arthur White Takes Stand Today

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

Atlanta Constitution
August 1st, 1913

Will Testify She Saw Negro Idling in Shadows of Stairway.

Mrs. Arthur White, wife of Arthur White, the witness who will testify that on Saturday morning when she appeared at the pencil factory to see her husband, she saw a negro idling in the shadows of the stairway on the first floor, will be the first called to the stand this morning.

A moment before adjournment yesterday afternoon she was summoned to testify, but Judge Roan ordered the session closed before she could reach the witness stand. Mrs. White, it is stated, has already declared that she is unable to identify Jim Conley as the negro she saw in the building that fatal Saturday.

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.

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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].

Frank, Feeling Tiptop, Smiling and Confident, is Up Long Before Trial

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

Atlanta Georgian
July 28th, 1913

Frank was escorted from the Tower to the courthouse shortly after 6 o’clock in the morning, nearly three hours before the trial was schedule to begin. This was done to avoid the curious crowd which it was expected would be about the courthouse and thronging the corridors at 9 o’clock.

Frank was up and dressed and freshly shaven when Deputy Sheriff Plennie Miner appeared before his cell at the early hour.

“How are you feeling this morning Mr. Frank?” the deputy inquired.

“Tip top, only, I’m mighty hungry,” replied Frank.

Exhibiting the same poised confidence that has characterized him through three months since he was locked in a cell in the county jail, the young factory superintendent chatted freely with Miner on the way to the courthouse.

Sure He Will Be Freed.

He was attired in a natty light gray mohair suit and wore a fancy gray tie. His face was fuller and he appeared slightly heavier than when he was arrested shortly after the murder of the Phagan girl. He seemed cheerful and in the best of health.

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Here is Conley’s Confession Around Which Bitter Fight is Expected in the Frank Trial

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

Atlanta Journal
July 27th, 1913

There is little doubt that the storm-center, so to speak, of the Frank trial will be the testimony of the negro sweeper, James Conley. He will be the principal witness for the state and all of the other evidence of the prosecution will be shaped with a view to corroborating and strengthening his story which places the murder of Mary Phagan upon the factory superintendent.

And the defense will chiefly concern itself with the task of discrediting the negro’s testimony. It will bend its energies to prove that Conley has lyingly accused Frank and will offer evidence designed to fasten the crime upon the negro.

These facts being true the public will be interested in reviewing the sworn confession made by Conley to the city detectives. It follows:

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State Will Build Case Against Frank Around Conley’s Story; Defense Will Undertake to Show that Negro Alone is Guilty

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

Atlanta Journal
July 27th, 1913

Defense Will Ridicule Conley’s Story and Endeavor to Show That It Was Made to Save His Own Neck

MANY WITNESSES CALLED TO CORROBORATE FRANK

Though Attorneys Are Silent, The Journal Presents Below Outline of What the Defense Is Expected to Be

Complete innocence on the part of Leo M. Frank, the young superintendent of the National Pencil factory, and absolute guilt on the part of James Conley, the negro sweeper at the factory, are the two cardinal points upon which Frank’s defense will be based when he is called to trial for the murder of Mary Phagan, the little girl, whose body was found in the pencil factory basement on Sunday morning, April 27.

Frank’s attorneys, Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold, two of the south’s ablest lawyers, have carefully concealed the plans of the defense, but enough has come to light to conclusively indicate that they not only expect to convince the jury that Frank is innocent and that it would have been a physical impossibility for him to have committed the murder without detection, but that Conley, the negro, did have such an opportunity and that robbery was his motive for killing the girl.

The defense evidently holds to the idea that to satisfactorily establish Frank’s innocence and bring about his exoneration it is necessary to clear up the murder mystery. This it will attempt to do by convincing evidence as to the guilt of the negro.

Ever since Conley made his last famous affidavit of confession in which he swore that at Frank’s instance he helped to carry the dead girl into the basement and wrote the notes found by her body Frank’s attorneys have worked on the theory that singlehanded Conley murdered Mary Phagan and that he sought to implicate their client as the principal in order to save his own neck.

The alleged inconsistencies in Conley’s confession will be stressed and its alleged improbabilities will be dissected before the jury. A piece of Mary Phagan’s pay envelope and a bloody club, said to have been found in the dark recess near the factory stairs, where Conley admits he was in hiding on the morning of the murder, will be produced as corroborative evidence, as will an affidavit from W. H. Mincey, an insurance agent, who swears that on the afternoon of the murder Conley, stupefied with drink, told him that he had killed a girl.

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Chronological Story of Developments in the Mary Phagan Murder Mystery

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

Atlanta Journal
July 27th, 1913

April 27—The dead body of Mary Phagan is found in basement of National Pencil factory at 3 a. m. by Newt Lee, the negro night-watchman. Police hold Lee, who yater [sic] in the day re-enacts discovery of the remains before city detectives.

April 27—Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the Pencil factory, called from bed to view Mary Phagan’s body at

April 27—Arthur Mullinax arrested on information given the police by E. L. Sentell, who declared he saw the murdered girl in the former’s company at 1220 o’clock on the morning of the murder.

April 28—Coroner Donehoo empanels in metal room on second floor and blood splotched on the floor lead police to believe the girl was killed there.

April 28—Coroner Donehoo empanels jury for inquest, it meets, views body and scene of crime and adjourns.

April 28—The largest crowd that ever viewed a body in Atlanta sees Mary Phagan’s remains at [t]he undertaking chapel.

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Frank Watches Closely as the Men Who are to Decide Fate are Picked

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

This newspaper article is a continuation from the first page of an Atlanta Georgian newspaper. The first page is missing from our archives. If any readers know where to obtain the first part of this article, we would appreciate any help! Thank you!

[…] Mary Phagan by strangulation. This was followed by the request of the defense that the State’s witnesses be called, sworn and put under the rule.

The prosecution opened by announcing its readiness to go on with the trial and called the list of witnesses. Bailiffs brought them down from the second floor. In regular order called, their names were: Mrs. J. W. Coleman, mother of Mary Phagan; J. W. Coleman, the girl’s stepfather; George Epps, newsboy; L. S. Dobbs, policeman; W. W. Rogers, bailiff for constable; L. S. Starnes, detective and also prosecutor on the indictment; Pat Campbell, detective; Grace Hicks, girl who identified Mary Phagan’s body; J. M. Gantt, once held for inquiry, now supposed, to be a star witness for the prosecution; Harry Scott, the Pinkerton detective; R. P. Barrett, pencil factory employee; B. P. Haslett, policeman; M. [sic] V. Darley, factory employee; W. A. Gheesling, undertaker that cared for the girl’s body; Dr. Claude Smith, City Bacteriologist; Dr. H. F. Harris, member of the State Board of Health; Dr. J. W. Hurt, Coroner’s physician; E. L. Parry, court stenographer; E. S. Smith, Monteen Stover, girl employee at pencil factory; Minola McKnight, cook at Frank’s home; Albert McKnight, Minola’s husband (McKnight did not appear in court); Helen Ferguson, Mrs. Arthur White, wife of factory employee, and L. Stanford.

Agree on Conley Affidavits.

Attorney Reuben Arnold asked concerning the duces tecum that he had served on the State’s attorneys for the affidavits of Jim Conley and others. On the promise of Solicitor Dorsey that he would produce the affidavits whenever needed the duces tecum was waived.

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Trial to Surpass in Interest Any in Fulton County History

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

No murder trial in Fulton County ever has approached the spectacular interest which is in prospect in the Frank case from the first, sharp skirmish between the opposing attorneys, through the long, bitter legal battle, and to the final pleas of the prosecution and the defense.

The presence of Luther Z. Rosser and Reuben R. Arnold in the brilliant array of legal talent at once made certain that the trial would be out of the ordinary. Neither has the reputation of making a half-hearted fight when there is anything at stake. This time it is a man’s life that is depending upon their legal ability, their shrewdness and their eloquence.

Both have a disconcerting habit of carrying the fight to their opponents. In ring parlance, they do not give their courtroom rivals a chance to “get set.” This is going to keep the spectators constantly on the edge of expectation, and will furnish a series of exciting incidents that will give the Frank trial a place by itself in the criminal annals of Georgia.

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Public Demands Frank Trial To-morrow

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Old Police Reporter Sees No Cause for Delay

Either Side Asking Postponement Will Reveal Weakness, as Time Has Been Given for Preparation. Conley Is Center of Interest.

Defense Must Break Story of Negro or Face Difficult Situation. State Will Base Case on Chain of Circumstantial Evidence.

By AN OLD POLICE REPORTER.

The defense in the case of Leo Frank would have made a mistake, if current street comment counts for anything, had it decided to move for a continuance of the case to-morrow.

Indeed, the fact that the defense even was suspected of an intent to move for a continuance—righteously or otherwise—has not had a happy effect upon the public, even if it has not, on the other hand, served particularly to prejudice the case.

The people want the Frank case tried. I think there is no mistake about that.

And when it was rumored that it might be postponed, with the consent of the defense, even if not of its own motion, more than one person in Atlanta, even those inclined to be friendly to Frank, began, more or less impatiently, to ask themselves, WHY?

If the State is sure of itself, why delay? If the defense is sure of itself, why delay?

If either is not sure of itself, why, then, it must be because the one not sure of itself has a weak case. Thus reasons the public.

Leo Frank is guilty or he is not guilty.

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Defense Claims Conley and Lee Prepared Notes

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

Atlanta Georgian (Hearst’s Sunday American)
July 27th, 1913

Theory Is That Watchman Surprised Sweeper Attempting to Dispose of Body and Entered Into Pact.

An amazing chain of evidence, laying bare the mystery of the two notes found beside the body of Mary Phagan, which have proved the most baffling of all the facts connected with the girl’s murder, came to light as in the possession of the defense Saturday.

According to the theory of the defense, Conley murdered the girl and was unexpectedly discovered with her body in the basement of the pencil factory by Newt Lee; that the night watchman declared the blame for the murder would be placed upon himself instead of Conley, and that the two notes, laying the blame upon the negro fireman Knoyls, and openly accusing the night watchman of the crime, sealed an agreement of secrecy between Lee and Conley.

Motive of Notes.

The first note, written by Conley, to soothe Lee’s fears, is believed to have been the one reading:

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